The Oklahoma City Thunder came into tonight's matchup with the Phoenix Suns in need of a statement victory, and tonight they made a loud and clear statement on both ends of the floor. Russell Westbrook led 5 Thunder double-digit scorers with 27 points, as the Thunder dominated the Suns 115-87 on Thursday night.
The Thunder made a lineup change for tonight's game, putting Corey Brewer into the starting lineup at shooting guard. In the first quarter, the Thunder got off to a shaky start defensively, giving up 60% shooting to the Suns in the first six minutes. The score was 17-10 after a three from Devin Booker, but then the Thunder found their rhythm on both ends. The Thunder defense started force turnovers and bad shots and that led to 14 unanswered points from OKC.
They got out on the break with Russell Westbrook attacking to find Steven Adams and Carmelo Anthony for transition baskets. Then, Westbrook kept the defense guessing and attacked for layups of his own. The Thunder closed the quarter outscoring the Suns 16-6, and led 26-23 after the first.
The Suns started the second quarter aggressively and eventually took the lead. The Thunder's second unit had some changes made to it as well and the fluidity on offense was lost. The starters came back in and turned it back up. The defense was stifling and the Thunder continued to get out in transition for layups. After trailing 32-31, the Thunder outscored the Suns 18-6 to close out the quarter. The Thunder led 49-38 at the half, Westbrook had 14 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds at the half.
The Thunder kept the steam rolling in the second half, as they jumped out to a 60-44 lead, led by Brewer's 8 points during an 11-6 start to the quarter. Westbrook began to take control, realizing that none of the Suns players could stay in front of him, he put in 9 straight Thunder points and they pushed their lead to 20. The Thunder led 88-67 after three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, the Thunder continued to build their lead, which expanded to as many as 29. The Thunder starters got an early exit from tonight's game, the only starter to see action in fourth was Paul George. The bench unit saw most of the action in the quarter including minutes from Nick Collison and Dakari Johnson.
The Thunder shot 52% from the field and put in 13 threes out of 33 attempts. The defense held the Suns to just 34% from the field and 24% from three. The Thunder won the rebound battle (49-43), dished more assists (21-15), blocked more shots (11-4), and dominated in fast break points (27-6) and points in the paint (48-34). The Thunder left some points on the board at the free throw line, hitting 18 of 27. They also turned the ball over more than expected with 18.
Westbrook fueled the Thunder attack with 27 points on an efficient 11-of-14 shooting with 9 assists and 8 rebounds. George put in 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting and hit 4-of-7 threes. Adams had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, he was 7-of-8 from the field. Brewer scored 17 points in his first start with the Thunder. Melo pitched in 11 points and his willingness to make the extra swing pass tonight should not go unnoticed.
Booker led the Suns with 30 points on 10-of-22 shooting, along with four threes. The Suns only had 2 double-digit scorers on the night, Booker and Tyson Chandler.
The Thunder are back in action on Saturday night at home against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs bring in a 37-27 record and currently sit at #5 in the Western Conference.