OKLAHOMA CITY - During his pregame media session, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks was asked to assess the Kings.
He like, like many coaches, noted the number of players the Kings have a lot of talented players. Brooks even singled out Isaiah Thomas.
"He's a speedster up the court,"
Thomas' 26-point performance came in the second half of the Kings' 113-103 loss to the Thunder.
Thomas dropped 23 points in the fourth quarter. It would be easy to nitpick and say Thomas got going against backups or that the Thunder let up with a big lead. Or you could say he was a gunner (no assists).
Regardless, Thomas stepped in and played with an intensity that was noticeably missing from the Kings. Like last season when he won a starting job with his leadership and savvy play, Thomas brought both against the Thunder to cut into a 24-point lead.
And Thomas and four other subs put enough fear into Brooks that he had to put Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka back in the game to secure the win.
"My job what to come in and just play no matter what," Thomas said. "If we're down 30 or we're up 30. I'm going to be me and bring energy and be aggressive on the offensive end. That's what I did and that's what that group of five did."
It's not like Thomas knew he'd have a big role in the second half. Jimmer Fredette was the first point guard off the bench Friday night. In the platoon between Fredette and Thomas, the first player off the bench usually plays while the other watches.
"Nah, that never happens really," Thomas said when asked if he was told to get ready for the second half. "It is what it is. I'm just going to always stay ready. That's what I was born to do. Whatever the circumstance is, I'll be ready."
After the game, Kings coach Keith Smart said he wants players to "win" minutes. Thomas would have appeared to have won some minutes lately.
Thomas played key minutes in the last game the Kings won (a week ago at Portland). And by showing the leadership the Kings need more of on the court, Smart has to find a way to get Thomas more involved.
*Thomas didn't have an assist, but James and Fredette each had two assists during the fourth-quarter rally. Thomas also had an assist.
The Kings had five assists in the first half, but tallied six in the fourth quarter, five coming from reserves.
*Oklahoman columnist John Rohde joked with Brooks that the Thunder should have a day off if they had 30 assists. Rohde was close. The Thunder had 29, 13 by Westrbook. That's the most by a Kings opponent this season.
*Tyreke Evans on Smart's angry timeout in the third quarter when starting lineup couldn't or wouldn't run plays correctly:
"I don't know," Evans said of what was going wrong on the court. "We got the message when he called the time out. So that was a good timeout by him."
Within three minutes of game time of that timeout, all five starters were out the game.
*John Salmons was visibly frustrated with the one-on-one play. He was trying to run plays, when other players wouldn't cooperate.
In the first half Salmons stood on the wing wide open calling for the ball but didn't get a look. That's bad considering he's been the Kings' best facilitator of late.