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January 20, 2014

Thunder corral Kings

OKLAHOMA CITY — Before his Sacramento Kings took the floor against Oklahoma City Sunday, coach Mike Malone made a bold statement. He said his team would not allow Thunder forward Kevin Durant to reach 54 points as he did in his previous outing.

It turns out Durant didn’t need to go on a scoring tear again. He just needed to control the game as the Thunder defeated the Kings 108-93 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“I just tried to be aggressive and put pressure on the rim and the defense,” Durant said. “When we move the ball like that, everybody is touching it, everybody is feeling good, it helps our defense as well.”

After sitting out most of the fourth quarter, Durant re-entered the game with Oklahoma City (31-10) leading 102-89 and 3:25 left in the game. The Kings tried to employ the Hack-a-Perk, fouling Thunder center Kendrick Perkins each time down the floor.

But Sacramento was not able to take advantage on the offensive end.

The Kings (14-25) ended up fouling Durant with 2:11 left in the game. He hit both free throws, which extended his streak of scoring at least 30 points to seven games. He has 121 points in his last three games.

“I said he wasn’t going to get 54 tonight , right,” Malone jokingly said of Durant. “That’s a silver lining right there.”

Along with his scoring, Durant added nine assists and six rebounds. Forward Serge Ibaka added 20 points on 9-for-13 shooting.

Kings guard Isaiah Thomas did his best to keep his team competitive. He scored a season-high 38 points to go along with six assists. Center DeMarcus Cousins added 16 points and 14 rebounds.

The Thunder forced the Kings into 20 turnovers, which they turned into 34 points.

“We talked about being defensive-minded with our hands and our feet,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. “We had 10 steals in the first half and then ended up with 13 for the game. I liked our activity.”

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