Well, that wasn't good.
This game really was not that close. The Suns took a two-point lead with a Chris Paul jumper at the 10:35 mark in the first quarter and never looked back. The lead quickly ballooned to 20-5 three minutes later, and Phoenix just kept adding to the lead.
There were moments where the Thunder made a run, but Phoenix’s lead was never really threatened.
The biggest bright spot of this lopsided loss is the play of Theo Maledon. In a game where the Thunder were missing all of their Opening Day starters and had no real other point guard playing, Maledon took advantage of the scoring opportunities given and finished with a career-high 33 points.
Theo Maledon has tied Russell Westbrook for 2nd place for most points scored by a Thunder rookie in a game (33)— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 3, 2021
Russ has the all-time Thunder record with 34 points
Maledon has not played like a second-round pick this season and tonight’s game was his finest performance of the year. This game is even more impressive when you consider how poorly Maledon shot the ball last game against the Toronto Raptors.
His game showed that Theo has the strength to move on to the next game pretty quickly and not let poor shooting carry over to the next day.
Most points scored by a rookie in a game this season:— Clemente Almanza (@CAlmanza1007) April 3, 2021
Anthony Edwards: 42 pts on 3/18
Tyrese Maxey: 39 pts on 1/9
Anthony Edwards: 35 pts on 3/14
LaMelo Ball: 34 pts on 2/5
Theo Maledon: 33 pts tonight
So the 34th overall pick shares company with picks #1, #3 and #21
When considering bright spots, Aleksej Pokusevski is a close second. In tonight’s game, Poku finished with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including going 4-of-6 from three.
Poku has looked like a completely different player in confidence and performance since he returned from the G League Bubble.
Because Poku is extremely raw, young, and the reality that he had the shortest offseason ever, his rookie season's sensible expectation was for him to show flashes of his talent.
Well, Friday was more than just a flash. It was a full 48-minute game that showed just how good Poku could be with proper, guided development.
Coach Mark Daigneault has mentioned how much he thinks Poku has benefited from the G League Bubble and considers performances like tonight. It is hard to argue against it.
So in a game that was decided after the first 12 minutes, having your two rookies play lights out was a nice consolation prize for stomaching an otherwise lackluster performance on a Friday night.
Next Game: Thunder travel to Portland to play the Blazers Saturday night on the second half of this back.