Thunder cracks Kings to keep pace in West
SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - The Oklahoma City Thunder maintained their late bid to claim a higher Western Conference playoff seeding with a 120-112 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday.
League leading scorer Kevin Durant tallied 32 points and Russell Westbrook added 30 to give the Thunder their fifth straight win and a chance to climb as high as number two in the West for the post-season.
Oklahoma City (55-26), fourth in the conference, sit a half-game behind third-placed Los Angeles Lakers and one behind the Dallas Mavericks with one regular season game remaining.
The Thunder will need to win their season finale and hope for at least one loss from teams in front of them to climb higher than fourth.
"We're all excited that we have an opportunity to play for a championship," Durant told reporters. "I didn't know what to expect for the playoffs (last year). But now I know. I should be ready, locked in and focused."
Oklahoma City found itself in a six-point hole at halftime, but outscored Sacramento 36-26 in the third to take control.
Durant made four free throws in the last 41 seconds to clinch the win and give the Thunder their sixth straight win over the Kings.
Sacramento rookie DeMarcus Cousins scored a career-high 30 points and had nine rebounds, while the Kings got 21 points apiece from Beno Udrih and Marcus Thornton.
Sacramento has lost three of their last four games.
The Thunder were coming off a win over the defending champion Lakers on Sunday and appear poised to challenge in the West this post-season after bowing out in the first round of last season's playoffs.
(Editing by John O'Brien; To comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org)