Thunder, despite slow start, down Kings
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma City Thunder are almost to the 2012 playoffs and have solidified the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference behind the San Antonio Spurs. Thus, about the only thing left to play for is a better record than the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference just in case they meet in the NBA Finals.The Thunder didn’t come out with much on defense in the early part of the game, giving up 40 points on 82-percent shooting to the Sacramento Kings in the first quarter of Tuesday night's game at Chesapeake Energy Arena.OKC cut the lead to just two, 59-57, at halftime, but the Kings pushed out to a 13-point lead (77-64) midway through the third quarter. Kevin Durant scored five points during a 9-0 run that got the Thunder within 77-73. Sacramento would eventually lead 86-82 after three quarters.Thunder Coach Scott Brooks started bench players Derek Fisher, Daequan Cook, Cole Aldrich, Nick Collison and Royal Ivey, and they played most of the entire fourth quarter. Cook scored 19 points, all in the final quarter, as the reserves played with a sense of urgency to help pull it out.Once Cook got off to the hot start, Collison and Aldrich were finding ways to set screens and get him open for shots.The Thunder still clung to a 106-105 lead with 1:52 left to play, but Fisher got fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws.Then after a Kings' bucket, Fisher hit a driving scoop lay-up. After a Sacramento missed shot, Fisher found Cook in the corner for another 3-pointer and a 114-107 lead with 44.9 seconds left to play en route to the 118-110 victory.