Kevin Durant, who led OKC with 21, was part of five Thunder players scoring over 15 points, as the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Phoenix Suns, 127-96.
After a tight first half, the Suns were only down 5 with 9:27 left in the third. OKC went on a 21-0 run in the quarter, and at one point they were up 30-9 in the 3rd before eventually settling on a 21 point lead entering the 4th. The Thunder's scrubs only extended it, as OKC defeats the Suns for the third time since New Year's Eve.
Thabo Sefolosha was the second leading scorer for the Thunder with 18, while Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins both had 17. Phoenix was led by Michael Beasley with 25 and Goran Dragic with 19.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
The Thunder took care of business in the first of a home and away back-to-back against the Suns. OKC defensively completely shut down the Suns starters, as Dragic was the only Phoenix starter who scored over 6 points. OKC is now 38-12, half a game back of the Spurs for the top spot in the NBA with 3 games left til the All-Star Break.
On a side note, earlier today we ran a story showing a possible trade with the Suns for Jermaine O'Neal, who tonight finished with 12 points on 5-6 shooting with 6 boards. There have been a few rumors of OKC and Phoenix trade talks recently, and it would only make sense if they waited until after this back to back before making a deal.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
For OKC, tonight was a textbook, 'how to beat a weaker team' performance. The Thunder had 5 players, including Kendrick Perkins, score 16 or more tonight, and shot 57.5% from the field, while only allowing 39 FGM for Phoenix. OKC simply has more talent and they exercised that superior talent in the 2nd half.
The Suns are currently in the midst of a rebuilding project, their franchise is in disarray. In case your unaware, the Suns recently fired their head coach and passed on Suns great Dan Marjerle and hired the unknown Lindsay Hunter as the head coach, which prompted the rest of the assistants to quit the team.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
For Phoenix, the starters only scored a combined 30 points this evening. By contrast, Serge Ibaka was only one point away from putting all 5 of OKC's starters in double figures. The Thunder were on fire offensively. In fact, they almost show as well from the 3-point line (14-21) as they did from the FT line (13-18).
Marcin Gortat has typically done very well against the Thunder; in the past he scored a career high 28 @ OKC last season and has averaged 15.5 points and 12.5 rebounds during their first two meetings. Tonight was a different story, as the Thunder bigs did a great job shutting down Gortat's pick-and-roll offense with Dragic. Gortat 's first shot came with 6:48 left in the fourth with his team down 29. Gortat ended the night with only 2 points and 5 rebounds.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
OKC will now travel to Phoenix for a rematch on Sunday. This could be a dangerous game for the Thunder, as the players might have trouble finding motivation after such a dominating performance, and the Suns are likely looking for revenge after being embarrassed.
If I were Scott Brooks, I would look as this 2-game series as a practice for the playoffs. This will be a good test to see how the Thunder react when their opponent makes game to game adjustments, something they were not able to do in the NBA finals last year.
Thunder Wonder: Kendrick Perkins, 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks.
Thunder Down Under: Thabo Sefolosha, 18 points, 4-6 from 3-point range.
Thunder Blunder: None
Thunder Plunderer: Michael Beasley, 25 points, 7 rebounds.
Next game: @ Phoenix Suns, on Sunday, February 10, @ 7 CDT
If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.