OKLAHOMA CITY — For a team as successful as the Oklahoma City Thunder has been the past few years, regular-season accomplishments mean very little. Anything outside of an NBA title turns into white noise at this point.
However, the Thunder still recognize big moments when they occur.
When Oklahoma City defeated the Sacramento Kings 104-95 Monday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder reached a couple of franchise milestones. Not only did they clinch the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs, but they also reached the 60-win plateau for the first time since coming to Oklahoma City.
“It feels good,” Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We have never done it here before. It’s new to us, but it feels good. It shows progression as a franchise every single year.”
No matter what they do in the regular-season finale Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Thunder (60-21) know they will have home-court advantage throughout the Western Conference
Meanwhile, the Kings (28-53) lost for the seventh time in their past eight games. But they at least tried to make a contest of it.
After trailing by 24 at one point, Sacramento found itself down only 12 points in the fourth. Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks had to bring Westbrook and Durant back into the game to close the night out.
With three minutes remaining, Durant hit a driving layup and had a few words for the Kings’ bench as he went back up court. After the Kings’ Travis Outlaw came up with a steal and dunk, Westbrook collected his second technical of the night and was ejected from the game.
Even so, that wasn’t enough to slow the Thunder down. With under a minute left, Serge Ibaka and Durant scored the next four points to put the game out of reach.