(via the NBA Youtube channel)
The Thunder are a good example of a team that knows how to ring in the New Year. The team had never lost the day before the calendar change, and from the opening tip it certainly didn't look like this year would be any different.
The first quarter of action was most notable for the improved play of Russell Westbrook, who finished the opening period with 8 points, 2 rebounds, and an assist. Two of those points came off the aforementioned steal-n-slam -- a move which can only be described with the words "Full Honey Badger."
It would be impossible to talk about tonight's game without mentioning the superb play of the Thunder bench. Brooks relied heavily on his bench in the second quarter, and really throughout the game. Nick Collison (11 points, 5 rebounds) and Nazr Mohammed (9 points, 7 rebounds) showed just how intelligent and crafty they can be on offense when they're called on to preform. And of course, it's always a good sign for the Thunder when Daequan Cook is shooting well. Tonight he went 4-of-5 from beyond the arch and finished with 12 points in only 9 minutes of play.
An important subplot to tonight's game was how well the Thunder played despite the underwhelming play from their biggest star. Kevin Durant supplied an only pedestrian 12 points to the team's total and committed a team-high 5 turnovers in his 26 minutes of play.
Overall, Oklahoma City can chalk this one up as a quality TEAM win. The Thunder were able to hold Phoenix to a field goal percentage under 40% while shooting above 50% themselves. Three of the Suns starters, and arguably their three best players (Nash, Hill, and Frye) were held to single digit scoring numbers.
Certainly, the Thunder will need to keep up this kind of defensive and bench play for their next game on the road against Dallas, which will likely prove to be Oklahoma City's toughest challenge yet.