In a game that blew pretty much everyone away, the Thunder were able to absolutely wallop the Phoenix Suns, 112-88. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook led the way with 28 and 23 points, respectively. OKC did the majority of their damage in the first half, scoring 41 in the first and 29 in the second. The Suns just couldn't do anything to stop the Thunder offensively, and were content to fire a bunch of contested midrange jumpers by the time the third quarter rolled around.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
The Thunder came into this game with a superb plan, and executed it to perfection. Gerald Green and Isaiah Thomas were both problems for Oklahoma City before, so Brooks put his best defenders on them. Roberson did an excellent job of wrapping up Green, while Reggie Jackson's long arms were definitely a bother for Thomas.
Meanwhile, the Thunder had to do everything they could to keep their size advantage in the paint, while keeping their legs fresh? The solution? Frequent substitutions. Just look at the Popcorn Machine linked above. The rotation went 11 deep in the first half, and KD got two separate breaks. Not to mention the fact that his third first half stint was a significant gamble, given his current minutes restriction.
Lastly, I think the Thunder did an awesome job of not making mistakes. The Suns are a team that basically thrives off of the other team screwing up, whether it be via turnovers or defensive boards. But the Thunder avoided giving up both. Ridiculously good first half shooting percentages and lots of high screen, easy-pass plays will do that.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
Russell Westbrook. He played a part in 24 of the Thunder's first 28 points, and didn't miss a single shot until 3:46 to go in the first. He's playing at an MVP level right now, so much so that tonight's performance inspired Darnell Mayberry to make that case for him. Still, the poor defense of Isaiah Thomas and loose perimeter coverage certainly have something to do with Westbrook's performance. You could also credit the Suns' tendency to foul. Phoenix has the second highest rate of fouls committed in the league, likely due to their lack of defensive bigs.
What stat stands out to you?
The Thunder were 4-18 from three for the game, shooting only 22% on the night.
We literally just did that against the Phoenix Suns! That's pretty cool. Still, it kinda reeks to have your team shooting so badly. The blame can pretty much be equally spread around the roster, but this might have been the type of night where Lamb provided an extra boost from three. Jones never seems to be given the same offensive emphasis. I have no idea why Lamb didn't play tonight, but he was in uniform.
What graphic stands out to you?
This shooting chart might as well be labeled "frustration". The Suns loaded all of their shots on one side of the floor, took way too many mid-range jumpers, and took too many long threes. The shooting charts for the other quarter pretty much look like this, except with way less mid-range.
What does this win mean moving forward?
It moves the Thunder to 11-13 on the year, just two wins shy of getting back to .500. The Thunder's win streak is now at 6, and is second only to the Warriors record-setting 16 game win streak. OKC sits half a game behind New Orleans and Phoenix for 8th place in the Western Conference. With Denver's loss to San Antonio tonight, OKC climbs to 2nd in the division. That leaves Thunder are currently 7 games back of Portland for the Northwest Division lead.
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, 28 Points, 7-18 Shooting, 8 Rebounds, 8 Assists, 2 Steals
Thunder Down Under: Kevin Durant, 23 Points, 8-13 Shooting, 8 Rebounds, 2 Assists, 2 Steals, 1 Block
Thunder Blunder: Andre Roberson, 0 Points (I know, I'm a hater, but I always award a Blunder)
Thunder Plunderer: Gerald Green, 3-7 from Three with 7 Rebounds and an Assist
Next Game: At the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, December 16th, 9:30 PM Central Standard Time.
What did you think of tonight's game? Drop a comment and let us know!