NBA Game Preview - Thunder v Kings

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Oklahoma City 18 29 24 22 93
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7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET3:00 GMT11:00 8:00 PM MST10:00 PM EST7:00 UAE (+1)04:0022:00 ET9:00 PM CT1:00 , December 11, 2019
Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California  Attendance: 16,723

Schroder aims to stay hot as OKC visits Kings

According to STATS
According to STATS

Oklahoma City Thunder at Sacramento Kings

  1. The Thunder have won three straight and have held each of their last two opponents to under 100 points, both on the road. They have not held three straight opponents to under 100 points on the road since December-January, 2015-16.
  2. After losing three in a row, the Kings have won back-to-back games, each win being decided by four or fewer points. It was the 10th game decided by four or fewer points for Sacramento, most such games in the league. The team is 6-4 in those games.
  3. The Kings won three of the four meetings against the Thunder last season with each team scoring at least 110 points in all four games. Buddy Hield has scored at least 25 points in the last three meetings -- he has never scored at least 25 points in four straight versus any opponent in his career.
  4. Dennis Schroder came off the bench and scored 27 points against the Jazz on Monday, his third straight game with at least 20 points off the bench. The last player on the Thunder to do that was Kevin Martin in 2011-12 -- no player has done it in four straight since Eddie Johnson in 1991-92 (six straight).
  5. Nemanja Bjelica made the game-winning three pointer as time expired at Houston on Monday, finishing with 17 points. He returns home where he is shooting 52.8 percent from three, fifth best in the league (minimum 30 attempts).
  6. Last season, Sacramento led the NBA with 20.9 fast-break points per game. This season, the Kings are holding opponents to 10.4 fast-break points per game, fewest in the NBA.

Dennis Schroder hasn't started a game this season, but he is regularly making an impact for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The seventh-year pro looks to be a difference-maker again Wednesday as the Thunder attempt to stretch their winning streak to four games when they visit the Sacramento Kings.

Schroder has averaged 24.3 points during the season-best three-game winning streak, including 27 points in Monday's impressive 104-90 road win over the Utah Jazz.

He has scored 20 or more points in three straight games and nine times overall.

"I just try to impact the game when I get in," Schroder told reporters after playing 31 minutes against the Jazz. "Try to make the right plays offensively and defensively. It's just energy coming in and playing with pace."

The reason Schroder comes off the bench is that Oklahoma City has two pretty good starting guards in second-year pro Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and veteran Chris Paul.

Gilgeous-Alexander scored 20 points against Utah while Paul had 16 points and seven assists. Paul also spent time marveling about Schroder, who is in his second season with the Thunder after playing his first five for the Atlanta Hawks.

"It's probably not talked enough about how selfless Dennis is," Paul told reporters. "Dennis is a starter in this league on just about any other team. He's a star in his role and that's why our bench is so good."

Schroder is averaging 16.7 points per game and knows his objectives: Shoot the ball and create instant offense.

"We want to make sure he stays aggressive," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after the win over Utah. "He can get to his spots. He kind of knows what his shots are and his spots are. We just want him to play with confidence. The team believes in him. I believe in him."

Sacramento, looking for its third straight win, received a jolt of confidence from Monday's 119-118 road win over the Houston Rockets.

The Kings "held" Houston star James Harden to 27 points and made the big play at the end when forward Nemanja Bjelica drained the winning 3-pointer as time expired.

Shooting guard Buddy Hield didn't mind that he didn't get the ball as he was ecstatic to see Bjelica be the hero.

"You saw when he made the shot how everyone loves him," Hield told reporters. "He's one of the best teammates on the team so everybody is happy for his success."

Bjelica made three 3-pointers while scoring 17 points. The Kings inbounded the ball with one second left; point guard Cory Joseph saw that Bjelica was left unguarded and fed him the ball.

"Great pass by Cory and I was open and went deep because I felt good at that range," Bjelica said. "And I just took a shot and it went in."

Hield scored a team-best 26 points and made six 3-pointers. Six of the eight Kings who played scored in double digits.

"We deserved this win," Bjelica said. "We were very brave. It is very hard to play against this team but we won."

Sacramento's consecutive wins -- it defeated the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday -- came after it lost three straight games and five of six.

The Kings are expecting to get power forward Marvin Bagley III back on Wednesday, with the Sacramento Bee reporting that he will be listed as probable. Bagley has missed 22 games since suffering a thumb injury in the season-opener. Point guard De'Aaron Fox may return later this month.

Oklahoma City forward Danilo Gallinari (ankle) missed the Utah game but hopes to play against Sacramento. Shooting guard Terrance Ferguson (hip) will sit out his fourth straight contest.

Sacramento went 3-1 against the Thunder last season when Russell Westbrook and Paul George were Oklahoma City's stars.

--Field Level Media

Updated December 10, 2019

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