The Phoenix Suns came into last nights game with two consecutive 140 point games under new head coach Alvin Gentry. Gentry took over the team after the Suns fired former head coach Terry Porter, the man who tried to slow the Suns down offensively. Gentry came in with the attitue of getting the Suns back to playing the type of basketball that everyone is used to seeing the Suns play, fast and furious. That was quite apparent early last night as the Suns 38 points in the first quarter, and OUTDID that point total in the 2nd (41) to finish with 79 first half points. Anytime you give 79 first half points, you are not going to win, plain and simple...or is it?
Despite giving up 79 first half points, the Thunder did have a decent offense output, 57 points. At least it would have been considered a good output in normal circumstances as its hard to be pleased with 57 first half points when you trail by 22 points heading into the locker room at the half. The Thunder trailed by as much as 28 in the 2nd quarter but where able to cut the margin to 22 as the half came to a close.
I don't know what Scott Brooks said to this team in the locker room, but they sure did come out to play in the 3rd quarter! They managed to cut a 22 point deficit into a 10 point deficit heading into the final quarter. So although 22 points was looking way out of reach, the Thunder didn't give up, and came out shooting in the 3rd trying to cut that lead down, and did so successfully. You have to be proud of a young team getting blown up all over the court, fighting to stay in a blowout, and doing so successfully. The character of this team, and its willingness to keep fighting no matter what how big the point spread got, is quite encouraging.
Oklahoma City continued to play well, midway through the 4th, and even cut that lead down to 6 points. It was then that the Suns really went berserk again, and started scoring at will. Next thing you know the Thunder are down 17 points again, and before you knew it, the buzzer was sounding and the Thunder lost by 22 points, 140-118.
Its amazing that the Suns are so good at playing this style of basketball, that they reverted right back to it after half a season of playing differently. They were clearly right at home all night, and thanks to Leandro Barbosa, and his 41 points, the Suns didn't skip a beat without Amare Stoudemire being in the lineup. Jason Richardson added 34 points, and Shaq of all people, dropped in 22. I was impressed with Shaqs play in an offense that isn't supposed to suit him. He was doing all the right things, including full court passes for easy buckets to his teamates. It doesn't matter if you can't run when you can fling the ball the entire length of the court with accurarcy, the announcers proclaimed, and thats very true. Shaq was clearly having fun out there late in the 4th. I was impressed.
On our side, offensively, it was the Kevin Durant show, as we've come to expect this season, dropping 35 points. I want to know where Jeff Green was tonight though, only 3-9 shooting for 10 points. Krstic and Collison did a nice job picking up the scoring slack combining for 30 points. RW0 dropped in 19, and Watson finished with 12, despite missing what seemed like a million shots out there tonight.
Kudos for the determination to stay in the ballgame, but just don't have the chops to play that style of ball with the masters of the run and pop style basketball.