Articles | Game Preview

Kings vs. Thunder Preview: Welcome to the Thunderdome

The Kings are trying to stop a three-game skid against SGA and the young and eager Thunder.

After a blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday evening, the Sacramento Kings will try to snap a three-game skid against the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight. The Thunder, an assumed tanker at the start of the season, are currently riding a hot streak, having won three consecutive games, and four of their last six, including a pair of victories over the playoff-bound Los Angeles Lakers. Oklahoma City is young, unafraid, and buoyed by a young star in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and the Kings cannot afford to overlook another low-win opponent as they did with the Spurs a few days ago. This is the sort of game that a good, or even average, team wins handily.

When: Friday, November 12th, 5:00 PM PST

Where: Paycom Center, Oklahoma City, OK

TV: NBCSA

Radio: KHTK Sports 1140 AM

For Your Consideration

Oklahoma City isn't particularly good, nor are they particularly bad, and that's the exact sort of team this Kings core has struggled with over the past several years. The Thunder aren't unskilled enough to simply run over with no effort, a la the Pelicans, nor are they talented enough to bring out the best in an inconsistent Sacramento squad. Expect a battle tonight.

Unlike the Kings, who can somewhat recover when De'Aaron Fox has a bad offensive performance (or ten), the Thunder live and die by their young star, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a two-way threat who can drive, shoot, and defend with the best of them. Outside of SGA, OKC doesn't do much offensively. They can't shoot worth a lick, as they've knocked down just 30% of their three-point attempts this season, and Gilgeous-Alexander is their only starter who's currently hitting more than 27% of his attempts from beyond the arc. Overall, Oklahoma City sports the 29th-ranked offense in the NBA, averaging under 100 points per game. If the Kings can get hot from the outside early, they may run the Thunder out of the gym before things really get started.

Because the Thunder don't have the explosive scoring abilities of most NBA teams, they rely on defensive tenacity and solid rebounding to find wins. Over their last six games, of which they've won four, Oklahoma City has held their opponents to just 102.5 points per game, using the length of players such as Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley, Luguentz Dorts, and others to disrupt perimeter play and shut down opposing offensive game plans. De'Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and the rest of Sacramento's guards must not be careless with the rock and allow the Thunder's poor scorers easy buckets in transition with live-ball turnovers.

From Sacramento's perspective, a change to the starting lineup needs to be considered, assuming that Tyrese Haliburton misses his third straight game with back soreness. The lineup of Fox-Hield-Harkless-Barnes-Holmes has been outscored by 17 points in just 18 minutes of play, the worst mark of any group for Sacramento this season. Adding to that concern is the need to try and stop Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City's only real offensive threat. De'Aaron Fox isn't a committed defender, Buddy Hield is Buddy Hield, and Moe Harkless isn't quick enough to stop an up-and-coming star guard like Gilgeous-Alexander. Conversley, sliding Davion Mitchell into the starting lineup would provide Sacramento with a true perimeter-stopper, and Mitchell's lack of offensive polish wouldn't be as noticeable against a poor scoring team such as the Thunder.

Prediction

De'Aaron Fox has another strong offensive performance, Buddy Hield lights up the Thunder for 30+ points, and Richaun Holmes ties Aleksej Pokuševski into a nice little bow and gifts him to Luke Walton as a thank you for playing him more than seven freaking minutes in the first half.

Kings 118, Thunder 102

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RobHessing
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November 12, 2021 10:32 am

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Hozr
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November 12, 2021 12:20 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Killer comment.

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1951
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November 12, 2021 10:33 am

A question shall be potentially answered tonight: Are the Kings at THAT point in the season already?
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RobHessing
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November 12, 2021 10:34 am
Reply to  1951

Lugs Walton.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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Nostradumbass 14
November 12, 2021 11:46 am
Reply to  1951

Seriously. If the Kings lose tonight, it is already a failed road trip and Walton could very well be gone before Thanksgiving.

RobHessing
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November 12, 2021 11:53 am
Reply to  Adamsite

Gee, if it got Walton the axe, I would call that a very successful road trip.

jwalker1395
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November 12, 2021 1:09 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

You are on fire!

1951
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November 12, 2021 12:03 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Amick was on Ham’s podcast.

It doesn’t seem that Luke’s seat is very hot at all, no matter what happens on this road trip.

Carl
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November 12, 2021 12:31 pm
Reply to  1951

Maybe folks have short memories, but McNair strongly endorsed Walton, which ties them together, in my mind. If Walton has to go, I guess McNair gets away without too much damage, but I have to think that’s not a good look for Monte either.

andy_sims
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November 12, 2021 1:19 pm
Reply to  Carl

I guess it depends on where you think McNair’s comment falls on the line that runs from Insincere Company Man to He’s Taken the Truth Serum from Kill Bill.

Carl
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November 12, 2021 2:03 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

There’s a way to address an issue like retaining Luke Walton without saying something that’s the opposite of the truth. I don’t think it’s unreasonable on the rare occasion that McNair speaks that he’s more Jen Psaki and less Sean Spicer.

andy_sims
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November 12, 2021 3:37 pm
Reply to  Carl

That’s an accurate assessment, I’d say, but I’ve been unable to find any reason for McNair retaining him other than that Ranadive wants Walton to work for the salary. If anything, McNair started a clock on bouncing Walton when McNair said that Walton would be the one to get the team back to the playoffs.

I’m hoping that

  1. Getting to the play-in as a 9/10 won’t cut it
  2. He’s gone well before next spring

It’s not a great team for a variety of reasons, but it could be pretty good if there was any leadership from the bench.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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November 12, 2021 4:46 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

I feel Luke will be gone by Christmas with Gentry in as interim. A full head coaching search will be done next summer.

BabalooMagoo
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November 12, 2021 1:15 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

If that’s the case then I’m hoping for a loss.

MrGuder
November 12, 2021 10:35 am

I’m curious how tonight goes. Is this another 9 game losing streak in the making?

Kosta
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November 12, 2021 10:50 am

Tina Turner Auntie Entity GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

We don’t need another hero
We don’t need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the Regular Season

Last edited 8 months ago by Kosta
Kosta
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November 12, 2021 10:56 am

I’m gonna lose my marbles if Tyrese is on the sidelines wearing a Shawn Michaels shirt again.
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Jman1949
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November 12, 2021 11:09 am

OKC is three-game win-streaking;
Together their young studs are peaking.
Still we should be better,
Fend off this upsetter,
And forestall Kings fans further freaking!

Klam
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November 12, 2021 2:12 pm
Reply to  Jman1949

Just want to take a moment to say I always appreciate your pre-game rhymes, Jman. 🙂

Migz
November 12, 2021 11:19 am

If SGA is on the floor, Davion should be on the floor. This will greatly increase the Kings chances of winning the game. Keep it simple, Luke.

AnybodyButBagley
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November 12, 2021 11:49 am

This team has proven that once again they are capable of losing to anyone that owns a basketball.

SexyNapear
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November 12, 2021 12:07 pm

Big loss and beginning of the end for Walton

jwalker1395
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November 12, 2021 1:12 pm
Reply to  SexyNapear

Is this the beginning of the beginning of the beginning of the end for Walton? I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve thought this by this point… The way Walton fails upward, we’ll be saying this once he has the GM job, too!

SexyNapear
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November 12, 2021 3:34 pm
Reply to  jwalker1395

It’s the beginning of the possible middle, which might lead to nearing the finish

Brizz
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November 12, 2021 12:07 pm

Three weeks into the season and I don’t really care one way or another if I catch the game tonight. It’s not a record, but it is definitely early in the season for this level of apathy to kick in.

andy_sims
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November 12, 2021 12:11 pm

I’ve been hearing Jones say “live-ball turnovers” a lot in the broadcast. Other than getting a technical during a stoppage, what the hell constitutes a dead-ball turnover? The former just seems redundant.

Hozr
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November 12, 2021 12:15 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

I would assume that any turnover that involves stoppage of play and inbounding the ball from the side line would be a dead ball turnover, as opposed to say a steal where play isn’t stopped. That’s just a guess on my part though.

andy_sims
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November 12, 2021 1:20 pm
Reply to  Hozr

Thanks, all, that makes good sense!

JoeEnzyme
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November 12, 2021 12:45 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

From google: “A live ball turnover is when the ball stays in play such as a stolen pass, while a dead ball turnover occurs when the ball must be inbounded like after a travel. Usually live ball turnovers are worse for a team because they can more easily lead to a fast break”

RighteousandHopeful
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November 12, 2021 12:50 pm

The Kings are a different team when Haliburton is on the floor. I am hopeful he plays tonight.

Kosta
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November 12, 2021 1:48 pm

Righteous, too!

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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November 12, 2021 1:53 pm

OT: I don’t have Stein’s substack but if the Pistons are interested in acquiring Bagley, Monte but keep his phone on him, even if all they are offering is a paper bag full of sprouted potatoes.

Brizz
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November 12, 2021 2:00 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Sounds like Cade for Bagley straight up, A tough but fair deal for us I suppose.

RobHessing
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November 12, 2021 2:00 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Looking at their roster, if the options are along the lines of Kelly Olynyk (currently injured and at 2/$25m w/ a 3rd yr. buyout) or Josh Jackson/Cory Joseph, I’d rather send Bagley home and ride it out.

Diallo seems to have fallen out of favor with them, so I guess you could do Diallo/Jackson?

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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November 12, 2021 2:05 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Yeah, I’d rather ride it out as well. Nothing on Detroit’s roster peaks my interest. That being said, it would be very Kangz to re-acquire CoJo in order to get Bagley off the roster.

Carl
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November 12, 2021 2:21 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

If you can get a second round pick out of Detroit, maybe you do the deal and just cut the incoming players. Zero desire for Cory Jospeh 2.0, and less desire to acquire Josh Jackson.

Isaiah Stewart and Josh Jackson works and saves the Kings ~2.5 million. Not sure the Pistons want to give up their starting center, but I don’t think they have a ton to lose, and if you’re going to acquire Bagley, you might as well play him.

Last edited 8 months ago by Carl
RobHessing
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November 12, 2021 2:40 pm
Reply to  Carl

They could have done the Stewart/Jackson deal already. They have to wait until after 12/15 for the likes of Olynyk, Diallo (1/14 for him), CoJo, Trey Lyles, and a few others.

Also, Detroit’s ’22 2nd round pick is heading to SA.

Last edited 8 months ago by RobHessing
Kingsguru21
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November 12, 2021 4:10 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

There’s no reason to trade Stewart for Bagley at this point. None.

Kingsguru21
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November 12, 2021 4:09 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

 if the options are along the lines of Kelly Olynyk (currently injured and at 2/$25m w/ a 3rd yr. buyout) or Josh Jackson/Cory Joseph, I’d rather send Bagley home and ride it out.

This was the thrust of the James Edwards/ Jason Jones Athletic piece, too. Basically, the earliest they could do trades is December and I imagine if that they trade Bagley before then it’s because it’s a major player worth acquiring (Pascal Siakam, Ben Simmons, John Collins once Atlanta can trade him starting Jan 15th).

He’s just worth more as an expiring contract whether his camp likes it or not.

Adamsite
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Nostradumbass 14
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November 12, 2021 4:16 pm
Reply to  Kingsguru21

ATL is a team to keep an eye on. They handed out a bunch of extensions and have so far played rather poorly. Their cap jumps by aroud $25M next season. They may look to cut bait by the deadline if things don’t turn around for them. Cam Reddish and Kevin Huerter may be had for pennies on the dollar,

Bbmuteman
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November 12, 2021 5:02 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

Their front office would be more likely to try shipping out Gallo before any of their new signings.

Kosta
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November 12, 2021 3:03 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

It does make sense to send Marvin to Motown.

He isn’t going to get any Sac-tual healing around here.

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RobHessing
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November 12, 2021 3:07 pm
Reply to  Kosta

From pissed off to Piston – the Marvin Bagley story.comment image

Kosta
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November 12, 2021 3:17 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

Marvin just didn’t fit.

All this time the Kings have been trying to fit a square pizza into a round pizza hole.
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Last edited 8 months ago by Kosta
RobHessing
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November 12, 2021 3:22 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Marvin is an NBA player…comment image

andy_sims
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November 12, 2021 3:40 pm
Reply to  Kosta

Flagged for possible badmouthing pizza of any shape,

Kosta
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November 12, 2021 3:59 pm
Reply to  andy_sims

I like square-shaped pizza!

Heck, I’d eat tesseract-shaped pizza if I could see it.

coolhandluke
November 12, 2021 11:37 pm
Reply to  RobHessing

More like “From pissed on to Piston”

SexyNapear
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November 12, 2021 3:35 pm
Reply to  Adamsite

I assume they are keeping Marvin around to use as salary filler in bigger deal.

Then again, there are no big deals when it comes to the Kings.

Adamsite
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November 12, 2021 4:08 pm
Reply to  SexyNapear

You never know, teams may look to cut bait by the deadline on some expensive players. Kings may have have the contracts to make something happen. That is exactly how the Kings landed Barnes for expiring deals.

MillersCornrows
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November 12, 2021 4:38 pm

Another pregame show where they go from talking about mental health to talking about Fox? I’ve never disliked this organization more. It’s garbage from top to bottom.

rockbottom
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November 12, 2021 4:54 pm

Agree, the team is disappointing but broadcast team far worse ! Mute 100% !

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