The Oklahoma City Thunder pounced upon the weary Phoenix Suns en route to a decisive 114-101 victory. In OKC’s redemptive performance, Russell Westbrook again wowed the NBA universe with a virtuoso 26-point, 22-assist, and 11-rebound masterpiece.
Westbrook now has 13 triple-double gems this season. Among these, Saturday’s all-around offering was perhaps the eighth-year guard’s finest. With the win, Oklahoma City has snapped a brief two-game skid.
Opposite Phoenix, the Thunder connected on 43% from deep and 50% overall as Steven Adams (19 points, seven rebounds) and the combination of Anthony Morrow (11 points) and Andre Roberson (11 points) buoyed Westbrook’s team-enhancing efforts.
Meanwhile, Phoenix, which has dropped six-of-eight, was paced by Devin Booker’s notable 31-point outburst.
Morrow's insertion into the starting lineup has opened the floor a bit.— Joshua Broom (@BroomSports82) December 17, 2016
In a contest wholly dominated by the Thunder, Oklahoma City’s two-way preeminence was on display as Westbrook assisted on seven of OKC's first ten makes. Meanwhile, the Thunder built a 23-14 advantage before “The Brodie” took a seat. As Westbrook observed, Phoenix placed together a mini-rally to pull within five. However, a resolute Thunder defense thwarted the Suns’ consequent offensive efforts and ended the quarter ahead 30-20.
To begin the second stanza, OKC’s reserves guided a balanced team enterprise. At one point, Oklahoma City even boasted a robust twenty-point lead. Amid this unchecked run, ten OKC players found their way into the scorer’s column. As the opening-half concluded, the freewheeling Thunder held a commanding 54-39 advantage.
At intermission, the maestro-like impact of Russell Westbrook was undeniable. The triple-double machine’s twelve assists and six rebounds spearheaded an efficacious offensive showing. In addition, Steven Adams (10 points), and Anthony Morrow (8) bolstered the Thunder's cause with creditable opening-half contributions.
For Phoenix, through the first 24 minutes, Eric Bledsoe's nine points highlighted an otherwise disappointing 16-of-48 shooting display. Further compounding the Suns’ scoring difficulties was a pronounced hardship both defensively and with ball movement —generating a scant nine assists to go along with eight turnovers.
Following the 15-minute interval, Westbrook (17 pts) shifted from assist maven to undeniable point producer. In total, during a smooth third-period, the Thunder kept Phoenix at bay while importing a commanding 89-69 advantage into the final period.
As the final frame was bereft of competitive theater, Westbrook provided the “must-see” entertainment by recording his league-leading 13th triple-double. Amid this scene, Phoenix mustered an inconsequential 32-25 run. Unfortunately for the Suns, a comeback attempt came after the fact, as Oklahoma City secured a 114-101 concluding advantage before an appreciative home crowd.
With the victory, OKC managed to elude a third-consecutive setback as Victor Oladipo nurses a sprained wrist.
Billy Donovan’s choice to open the contest with Anthony Morrow payed visible dividends. Morrow’s 2-of-2 first-quarter FGA played a big role in Oklahoma City’s establishment of early momentum.
Pursuant to OKC’s early fortunes, it seemed as if the now 16-11 Thunder played downhill the rest of the way.
Oklahoma City next takes the court Monday night vs. Atlanta.