Oklahoma City Thunder 127, Phoenix Suns 96 -- Total annihilation

Some judge sport by the eye test. Does a team look good? Do the players try hard? What does the feel and the body language say of the final outcome? Others take a more analytic approach. What do the numbers say? What should the numbers say?

No matter how you slice it on Friday night, the Phoenix Suns were flat out terrible in a 127-96 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road as the Thunder used a 21-0 run in the third quarter to make it a laugher.

Calling it “total annihilation” is a redundant way to describe it since annihilation includes total destruction. But on Friday, it’s needed for emphasis.

What’s the eye test say? When Kendrick Perkins is toasting the Suns for 17 points, nine rebounds and three blocks while holding Marcin Gortat to two points and five rebounds – all while hitting 18-foot jumpers, mind you – there was no shot Phoenix would have a chance. When Thabo Sefolosha scores 18 and hits 4-of-6 three-point jumpers, it’s the same deal. Perry Jones III saw playing time and threw down two dunks upon entering in the fourth quarter. And when there’s a technical foul with six Suns players on the court and six minutes left in the third quarter, it was time to mail in a Suns loss.

How about the numbers of it all? In the third quarter, the Thunder outscored Phoenix 36-20 while shooting 54.2 percent, then gave it to a snoozing Suns bench in the fourth by shooting a ridiculous 72.7 percent and scoring 22 points in the paint during the final quarter alone.

Oklahoma City shot 57.5 percent for the game by scoring 62 points in the paint, 42 more behind the three-point arc and 13 at the foul stripe. For anyone new to the sport of basketball, that would be the complete opposite of any gameplan; making a team shoot contested, long two-point shots. Do the math or look at the shotchart (below); the Suns only allowed 10 POINTS of 127 that on paper might be considered anything resembling long two-pointers.

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Durant led the Thunder with 21 easy points including what appeared to be a fadeaway dunk attempt over Markieff Morris. Russell Westbrook put up 17 points and was equaled by Goran Dragic, who scored 16 first-quarter points on 10 shots and put the Oklahoma City All-Star in foul trouble.

The problem, though was that Dragic scored 16 of the team’s 27 first-quarter points. He only took four total shots in the last three quarters.

Meanwhile, Phoenix allowed the Thunder to hit 14-of-21 three-pointers on the night. The Suns turned it over 17 times and one of the best teams at capitalizing on miscues poured in 29 points from those.

The Thunder used selfless passing – six players recorded three or more assists – as the Suns withered away once Dragic was taken out of it. Like Oklahoma City had done before, they waited until the beginning of the second half to finally pull away, as the Suns only trailed 55-50 at halftime and were shooting 53.5 percent at the half to the Thunder’s 51.2.

Pride drives the NBA’s best. Kevin Durant, in the same mold of NBA greats and backing up his new “Not Nice” ad campaign, somehow found a burning hate for even the lowly Suns.

To be fair, displaying any fight or any attempt at a response requires talent that the Suns just might not have. But in the loss on Friday, Phoenix wilted outside of a first-quarter explosion by Dragic, perhaps Michael Beasley’s 25 points in 29 minutes and perhaps Jermaine O’Neal’s 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks.

It’s important to mention the obvious. Oklahoma City is a very good team, and to the Thunder’s credit, the players didn’t show signs of cruising or flatness against the struggling Suns. The Thunder actually jumped out to a 7-0 score before Dragic started attacking. It also limited Phoenix role players, as Luis Scola rarely found himself open for his patented mid-range jumpers. He went 1-of-6, and Jared Dudley likewise only got three shots up on Friday. And the Thunder adjusted to make Dragic less of a scorer.

The game plan probably won’t change much for the second game against the same Suns team on Sunday in Phoenix.

About the only thing that can change is perhaps the Suns’ will. Whether it was stifled because the Thunder was simply better or because there wasn’t enough pride on Friday doesn’t matter. Another embarrassing outcome will happen if something doesn’t change.

  • DBreezy

    If a tree falls in a forest…….

  • 4everis2long

    How uninspiring.

  • 4everis2long

    It seems Gortat looks worse as the season progresses. Maybe he has already checked out.

    • ojai1980

      He wants out. He wants to be on a contender. He knows the Suns aren’t going to pay him. I just hope they can get something of value for him. Go Suns.

      • https://twitter.com/True_Rys Rich_Anthony

        @ojai1980  @4everis2long He can want out all he wants.  To really help his case, though, he needs to be a beast out there.  Maybe not in terms of points, because just about all contenders have their PPG issues sorted.
        He needs to show he can defend, rebound, and be an asset in general while he’s on the court.  If he keeps producing games without much flair, he won’t be on a contender before the trade deadline.

  • https://twitter.com/True_Rys Rich_Anthony

    I’m pretty sure this was a 5-point game at halftime.  I’m almost positive of this.
    At any rate, the simple facts scream out as the season progresses.  It is true.  The Suns aren’t very good.  Dragon is very good, but without any sort of consistent help on offense he simply can’t blitz teams for 4 straight quarters.  Opposing coaches are smart; they’ll try to take him away.
    These games are required though.  Games like this paint a terrible picture of the Suns as they are right now, but they clearly illustrate what will be needed as this seasons ends and free agency / draft preparations are in overdrive. 
    Two, (yep – T. W. O) athletic big men are going to be needed.  One of them needs to be an absolute freak athlete and the other needs to be very athletic with a nose for rebounding / defense and a stupid motor.  This much is already set in stone.  I don’t imagine Gortat, Scola, or Oneal to be on this roster next season, and their replacements need to be able to mesh with Dragic.
    May as well play Marshall HEAVY, HEAVY OBESE minutes to see if he will actually come along.  I don’t want Phoenix to have to spend a draft pick on a point guard this year, no matter the round.
    I hope the trade deadline passes and the Suns were active before it.  Need to get a bit more cleansing going on before we head into the off-season.

  • The_JayTay

    What happened to JD? He only played 14 minutes and I am pretty sure 0 in the second half. Gortat needs to go now. I would take O’Neal and Scolo over him every day of the week.

  • BoomShakaLuka

    We need to grab Nerlens Noel in the draft. Sign Paul Millsap, and Monta Ellis or Tony Allen in free agency.
    Package: Gortat, Morris, and Marshall to Charlotte for Diop’s expiring deal and the Cats’ 14th pick. Use the pick to draft a defensive SF.

  • Heg

    The positive thing worth noting was that for a while in the first half Goran Dragic looked like a man possessed. He was driving and shooting and passing as well as anyone could hope. If you wanted to be generous you could call him a poor-man’s Tony Parker. It was impressive, and (it seems to me) it inspired a strong (albeit brief) performance out of the rest of the team (especially once Gortat and Scola went to the bench). Jermaine O’Neal had a brief and exciting rebirth showing us offense and defense from a bygone era. Hopefully he will continue that sort of play and Gortat could spend more time on the bench (or get traded). 
    Somehow while they went to the locker room only five points down (which would have been less if Goran had just shot the stupid ball), Hunter managed to convince them that they should completely implode and allow the Thunder to own them. I’m curious what he said. Maybe he reminded them that we are TANKING this season and that all effort must be limited to the first half. Who knows?

    • BoomShakaLuka

      It seems to me that Beasley is being propped up as a go to scorer in an attempt to increase his trade value before February.

  • the real shazam


  • hawki

    @ BoomShakaLuka….no chance we get Noel in the draft…Bobcats have him virtually locked up….however, that trade you mentioned could be tweaked….Gortat, Morris, Marshall & Suns 1st overall (# 5 maybe) to “Cats for Diop’s expiring & Bobcats #1 overall….although knowing the Suns FO, there is about as much chance of that happening as me getting a job.
    @Silmarillon from previous post….I’d say right now it’s 60-40  that lakers make the playoffs…Rox are playing good ball but have 9 of next 12 on the road….could come down to last game of the year…Rockets at Lakers…April 17th.
    @ forever…re: Miami Hurricanes center….you may be referencing Reggie Johnson (6’10″ 290 lb) who is good but to me the most intriguing prospect on the ‘Canes roster is Kenny Kadji…he is a legit 6’11″ with the best 3pt stroke of any Big Man (6’10″ & above) at the collegiate level…started his career at Florida & is 24 yrs old & will be 25 on Draft Day…as good a 3pt shooter as Frye but with better athleticism & toughness & could be had at the bottom of the 1st round or top of the 2nd…..Kadji is strictly a stretch PF however….not a Center.

    • DBreezy

      @hawki Do you really think the Cats are going to go with Noel? I don’t think he will be on the board when the Suns pick, but my guess is the Cata go with Shabazz or McLemore if he proves he has star potential. I think their nightmare is that they don’t get the top pick and McLemore proves to be a nice prospect, but not much more than a better shooting/worse driving version of Gerald Henderson. Does Cho hold his nose in that situation and take Zeller? They need scoring and someone who can do some of that relatively quickly. I’m not sure anybody from the coach to the owner will be able to survive the simultaneous offensive learning curves of MKG, Biyombo, and Noel. That fan base isn’t exactly energized.

  • the real shazam


  • 4everis2long

    Hawki, My man, Kadji is exactly who I was thinking of and yes he IMO would be the perfect 4. A couple of weeks ago Draft.net had him going in the second round. I have seen him twice and he impresses me a lot. Now I can go back to sleep. Thanks Hawk

  • BoomShakaLuka

    This roster is just such an utter fail. Soo many draft busts it boggles the mind.
    What could those scouts have seen in Morris that impressed them? We coulda had Faried, and likely could’ve built around him for the future. I just hope for once, just once, the Suns get something right.

    • https://twitter.com/True_Rys Rich_Anthony

      @BoomShakaLuka You mistake judging the drafts of the past, namely the Nash era post-Amare of being made with the idea of pure talent the priority.  All drafts were  made, instead, with the idea of meshing within the offense as it needed to be constructed so that Nash could be effective.
      All drafts and acquisitions prior to this coming off-season were of that design.  There is no point in constantly bringing up Faried.  He would have never been drafted here while Nash was a Sun.  Morris was the best fit at that point.  That should be a dead issue.
      Drafting talent-first should be the mindset now, as Dragon can be deployed as the point or the attacker, or both and he has proven that he can play with athletes of any kind.
      Just wait.  Reserve judgement and if the FO gets it wrong after this season, feel free to feed them to the wolves.

      • BoomShakaLuka

        @Rich_Anthony Lol

  • Sillmarillion

    Well, nobody expected a W vs OKC and I guess now it’s all about losing to get the best lottery spot, right?So all in all no big deal imo. There are some decent players on this team (only a few though), with some trades and a good draft maybe the Suns gonna be a playoff team again.

  • hawki

    @ DBreezy….Yes, I still think the Bobcats will go Noel # 1…..Shabazz is a possibility but there are holes in  his game & did you see the hissy fit he threw after not getting the last shot vs Stanford ?
    Drew makes the game winning buzzer-beater bucket & Shabazz ignores the celebration….I just can’t see Mclemore going #1 …but ya never know with the not so cerebral M Jordan.
    I do understand your point though, it will take the patience of Job to allow Biyombo & Noel to develop offensively at the NBA level but Noel’s defensive skills trump any other player in the college ranks.
    Maybe this is the year the #1 pick can be pried away via trade….there is no “mortal lock” for the #1 pick as in previous years & the pressure to win now could affect Jordan’s decision.

    • DBreezy

      I didn’t see the Stanford game all his reaction isn’t that surprising to me. When watching BMac vs Shabazz, the number 1 thing that jumps out to me Is the relative stability of the two programs. KU has ups and downs, but the system and Self are a rock. UCLA looks like a mess every time I’ve seen them the last couple of seasons and it looks more and more like Howland is simply living off the previous success of his teams and the NBA cachet of a few of his former players. They don’t look like they trust each other on the court at all often missing the open or hot hand. Without the success in the w-l column of other schools I’m bit surprised it boiled over. Walton was practically begging for Howland’s head in the U of A game………..
      As for Noel, I agree that his defensive game is intriguing along with his speed. He has potential offensively but it will take time. Time is something I’m not sure Jordan has in Charlotte. Taking Shabazz and seeing if they can flip Gordon and or Henderson into something useful seems more likely to me. I agree with your assessment of BMac btw.

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