Thompson, Robinson and more discuss the team’s showdown with the reigning Western Conference Champions.
– The Kings strive to bring their best against the League-leading Thunder Friday night at Sleep Train Arena.
“For a team that’s as up-to-par as OKC, we want to come out and try to make a statement,” said Thomas Robinson. “(We’ll) try to play them as best we can, protect our home and get a ‘W’.
“I think it’s kind of a blessing in disguise with us losing (Wednesday),” added the Kansas product. “It kind of put a little anger in everybody to be anxious to play the next game.”
In addition to focusing on slowing down All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Kings frontcourt is prepared to contend with big man Serge Ibaka, who ranks second in the NBA in blocks per game (2.8).
“He’s a defensive guy, so you have to go at his body,” said Jason Thompson. “He wants to try to block as many shots as possible, so (we have to) try and get him into early foul trouble and not make it easy for him.”
Robinson recognizes No. 9 makes a sizable impact on both ends of the court.
“I always thought Ibaka was a great player, and then once he started adding the offensive part – hitting the 15-to-18-foot jumpshot – it made him dangerous,” said the Kansas product. “I think that’s what took him to another level as an elite big in this league.”
– While Kings Head Coach Keith Smart commends the defensive effort of Tyreke Evans and Travis Outlaw – who held Durant and Westbrook to a combined 45 points on 11 of 32 shooting on April 24, 2012 – the Kings leader believes the key to success is flawless execution.
“I think this game is more about us – us taking care of the ball, us making sure we have the right spacing on the floor to take advantage of what they do very well, (which is) clog the paint up (and) us making sure we get to the free-throw line,” said Smart.
“We have to play close to a perfect game.”
– In the pair’s most recent meeting on Dec. 14, 2012, the Kings mounted a spirited late-game comeback, in which Isaiah Thomas scored 23 of his 26 points in the final quarter, connecting on four three-pointers during a 23-4 run.
For most of the period, Smart turned to a small lineup featuring Thomas and Jimmer Fredette in the backcourt, creating matchup problems for Oklahoma City.
“I think that really helped us a lot in the game because it gave us some speed and some space on the floor, and (we) saw they were a little bit vulnerable to that,” said the Kings coach. “We could, at some point in (tonight’s) game, get to that earlier because it did give us some good mileage out of it.”
Catch Evans and the Kings take on Durant and the Thunder tonight at 7 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena. Plus, get two tickets and a Bobby Jackson postgame group photo for as low as $49 with the #BeatOKC Special – Get Tix.