Thunder go for fourth straight win vs. Kings
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SACRAMENTO -- The surging Oklahoma City Thunder can get a measure of revenge as they attempt to keep a winning streak going Monday night against the Sacramento Kings.
The clubs met at Oklahoma City last month, with the Kings using 26 points from Iman Shumpert to shock the Thunder 131-120.
That was part of a four-game, season-opening losing streak for Oklahoma City, which has since won 10 of 11, including 110-100 on Saturday night in Phoenix to open a three-game Western swing.
The Thunder has been doing it without star guard Russell Westbrook, who missed four straight games due to a sprained ankle before not attending the win at Phoenix so he could witness the birth of twin girls on Sunday.
Westbrook is expected to rejoin the team on Monday but remains questionable because of the ankle issue.
With three regulars out of action Saturday, the Thunder got a much needed 25 minutes and 12 points off the bench from Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.
"It's an opportunity for some guys to step up and help," Thunder coach Billy Donovan explained. "Guys have done a good job staying engaged and working and trying to get better in terms of doing their job. But it's a little different when you get that opportunity."
Shumpert is getting that kind of opportunity this season in Sacramento. After having been a part-time starter in each of the last four seasons, the veteran has made 12 starts for the Kings, including the one that produced 26 points at Oklahoma City.
Shumpert had his fourth double-figure scoring night of the season on the Kings' just completed two-game trip, one on which Sacramento lost both games. They did beat the San Antonio Spurs the last time they were seen at home.
The Kings have had more on their minds than consecutive losses to Memphis and Houston over the past three days.
A large wildfire in Northern California has forced postponement of many sporting events, although the Kings have elected to keep playing.
Meanwhile, Yahoo Sports reported over the weekend that Kings players are clashing with coach Dave Joerger over "philosophical differences," something the coach took time to address Sunday.
"Our focus is with our team and coaching our team and getting better every single night," Joerger said shortly after getting a vote of confidence from general manager Vlade Divac. "We've got young guys mixed with older guys, so, you know, go in there and rally them up. This is a tough five-game stretch for us, so I want to make sure that we stick together (and) grab onto each other."
De'Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield have been doing their best on the court to keep the Kings afloat.
Fox has averaged 20.5 points and 7.1 assists in Sacramento's last eight games, a stretch during which he's recorded three double-doubles.
Hield, meanwhile, has gone for 20 or more points in seven of his last 12 games, finding time to complete a pair of double-doubles.
They combined for 39 points in the win at Oklahoma City.
Updated November 18, 2018