OKLAHOMA CITY — Defense turned into offense early for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
A fast start led to a season high in points as the Thunder cruised past the Sacramento Kings, 126-96, on Tuesday night.
Oklahoma City scored 68 points in the first half, a season high for a half, and led by as many 25 points in beating the Kings for the second time in four days.
“That was about as good as they could possibly play to start the game,” Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said.
Daequan Cook scored a team-high 20 points off the bench, and Russell Westbrook added 10 points and 11 assists.
DeMarcus Cousins returned from a one-game suspension to lead Sacramento with a game-high 21 points and 13 rebounds off the bench.
“They jumped on us right from the start and we could never get back in the game,” Sacramento coach Paul Westphal said. “It was a great performance by them. We couldn’t stop them. We couldn’t score.”
Omri Casspi added 14 points for the Kings, who had won three straight road games before Tuesday.
On Saturday, Oklahoma City beat Sacramento 99-97 when Tyreke Evans’ potential winning 3-pointer missed. The Thunder didn’t have to worry about that Tuesday. Evans missed the game with plantar fasciitis and the Thunder led wire-to-wire.
Kevin Durant went 5-for-18 from the field and scored 17 points. Nenad Krstic scored 16 for Oklahoma City as seven players finished in double figures and 11 different players scored in the Thunder’s final game before the All-Star break.
“That was the best all year at the start of the game,” Durant said. “The defense was on point. The offensive was on point. We just clicked on all cylinders.”
Oklahoma City scored 37 points in the first quarter after hitting its first seven shots. It was the third-most points scored in a single quarter all season and most since the Thunder scored 38 points in the first quarter against Miami on Jan. 30.
“It all starts on the defensive end for our team,” Cook said. “If we bring it on the defensive end, we are going to get rewarded on the offensive end.”
Krstic scored seven straight points for the Oklahoma City midway through the third quarter as the Thunder took a 28-point lead.
Cook knocked down a 30-footer as the shot-clock wound down to give Oklahoma City an 18-point lead. James Harden found Serge Ibaka for a dunk 39 seconds later, which gave the Thunder a 20-point lead with 7:15 remaining in the first half.
Cook hit another 3-pointer on Oklahoma City’s next possession and Eric Maynor scored in transition 15 seconds later to cap a 13-0 run and put the Thunder ahead by 25.
“The ball was really moving around,” Brooks said. “When the defense has to chase the ball, we are a fun team to watch.”