OKLAHOMA CITY — In its two previous games, Oklahoma City allowed its opponents to hang around, forcing the Thunder to come up big in the fourth quarter. For three quarters Friday against Sacramento, it looked like that would not happen again.
But once again, the Thunder needed a fourth-quarter spurt to hold off the Kings 113-103 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. It may not have been pretty the entire time, but it was enough to reach the team’s 10th straight victory, the longest since the franchise came to Oklahoma City.
“It was good,” Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said. “We did a good job of knocking out shots. It is what we have to do for the next 48 games. We make the plays in a lot of different ways.”
Oklahoma City (19-4) took a double-digit lead into the third quarter and slowly lengthened its lead. Both teams had emptied their benches in the fourth quarter as the Thunder led by 24.
However, the Kings (7-15) Isaiah Thomas led a frenetic charge to close the gap to 103-93 with four minutes left in the game. Thunder coach Scott Brooks was forced to bring his starters back in.
“I think we played with energy and heart,” Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans said. “We came out and played tough basketball. We kept fighting.”
The Kings closed the gap to five points before Durant came up with a bucket to stop the bleeding. Serge Ibaka and Westbrook added a couple of shots to push the lead back to 109-98.
The Kings got within six points before Durant drained four consecutive free throws with 43 seconds left to put the game away.
Ibaka led the Thunder charge with 18 points and 11 rebounds. It was only his third double-double of the year. Durant missed just four shots from the field as he racked up 31 points, four steals and six turnovers. Westbrook added 13 points and 13 assists.