Phoenix Suns 128, Oklahoma City Thunder 122 -- Let it fly


PHOENIX – Most everything went wrong for the desperate-as-ever Phoenix Suns. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook took his minutes restriction to mean he would best his career averages in a lesser amount of time. He ripped Goran Dragic on the first play of the game and finished with a dunk, then scored the off two more Phoenix turnovers in the first quarter alone.

Oklahoma City got what it wanted early, and Kevin Durant wasn’t even a major factor through the first 12 minutes. Russell Westbrook finished with 36 points, nine assists and nine boards. Kevin Durant added 34. Think the Suns would win?

The storyline felt like it’d become a similar one to the first meeting between the two squads. The Suns would never give up, and that was a nice tidbit for a team supposed to be sniffing around Joel Embiid’s sneakers. But they would lose.

On Thursday, they won — dramatically.

Instead, Gerald Green poured in a career-high 41 points with a hefty helping of eight three-pointers and the Suns blitzed the Thunder in a 128-122 win at U.S. Airways Center on Thursday.

Like it was when the Suns played the Rockets two weeks ago, a fast start wasn’t in the cards. Goran Dragic got picked by Westbrook atop the key seconds after the tip, and Westbrook scored on two more transition dunks off turnovers in the first quarter. Some way, some how, the Suns trailed just 65-61 at halfway by giving up 56 percent shooting. The defense wasn’t as bad as the score would indicate – though not great either – considering all the fastbreak points off turnovers.

The defense certainly didn’t improve to begin the third quarter, but the Suns steadied themselves behind a ratcheted up aggression from Green. He pumped in 25 points in the quarter.

And when he went cold, Dragic was there to spell him. The Dragon added 22 points, and the Morris twins also went at Serge Ibaka in the post to combined for 39. Phoenix would up shooting 15-of-27 from behind the three-point arc in a win that may have been a lot to ask for but was certainly necessary for the postseason hopes to be in a decent spot.

To the pregame questions posed by Ryan Weisert.

Can Goran carry the scoring load?

He scored 10 points in a first quarter and had 15 at half, carrying the Suns while Green waiting in the wings. Thereafter, Dragic had a rare disappearing act until the fourth quarter. He both struggled to operate the offense or score himself in the third, and Phoenix seemed set on force-feeding the ball into the post. The ball-denial by the Thunder caused the Suns to get into a funk until Green threes led to stops, and those stops led to more threes.

Dragic, however, turned it back up in the fourth, slashing to the basket for scores and then hitting a mid-range jumper with 45 seconds left that kept the Suns ahead by four. He finished with 22 points and six crucial points in the fourth quarter.

Side note: Green, oddly enough, didn’t take a shot in the first quarter. He didn’t take a shot until five minutes had expired in the second quarter.

Which rookie center will have the better night?

Alex Len played a solid first six minutes and held Steven Adams without a stat other than a foul. Phoenix’s rookie big man scored three points on a dunk plus the foul but quickly accumulated three fouls after Hornacek left him in the game – one would think it was a lesson in how to play without fouling, something the fourth overall pick from 2013 still has to learn.

Len scored six points and added three rebounds for the game. Adams was hardly used, and you can imagine why. Hint: three-pointers.

Can the Suns keep Ibaka from having a big night?

Serge Ibaka had an efficient scoring evening and scored 18 on 7-of-11 shooting, but he wasn’t overwhelming. The Morris twins handled Oklahoma City’s physical and long frontcourt just fine, hitting big-time shots in the third and fourth quarters. Marcus Morris hit three treys and scored 15 while Markieff bullied Ibaka at times, finishing with 24.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful

  • Roger

    Markieff was at his best today. Great low-post game tonite, he played like a true PF. Nice!!

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    When it was 96-80 OKC, I flipped over to the UCLA-Wash. game & then saw the ticker at the bottom of the screen say 98-96…..WTF ??

    What a Game !….Gerald !

    …and how good would Houston be if they would have kept Dragic ?

  • BUTLER

    The SUNS played Thunder-style ball and relied on their main advantage to win: Not Green, who was amazing, but Dragic’s brain. For all of RW’s skill, his mentality hinders Durant, while Dragic plays smarter.

  • foreveris2long

    Well Hawki if Houston had Dragic they would be the best team in the West. Dragic plays within the system as well as anyone. He would have been an excellent asset for them. Who looked good for UCLA tonight? I did not turn the channel once.

    Man these Suns play with a lot of attitude. Their disposition was downright nasty tonight as the played with an edge. That chip on their shoulder is what they will need down the stretch to go with a healthy Bledsoe.

    What a win against a quality opponent! I may not sleep tonight. Gerald Green and Markief played huge tonight. Dragic closed the deal. Ish, I love that guy

  • Lance

    Cracking performance against OKC. Gogi played hard in upper limit by injuries.
    Bravo Los Suns.

  • vtsunrise

    I wish I’d seen this game on TV. Should have been nationally televised. Looking forward to more in the playoffs…

    An OKC-Suns matchup inn the first round!? That would beat Suns-Spurs I think.

    Meanwhile, the sky is the limit in any one game. And meanwhile, the daunting schedule goes on.

    Go Suns! Let ‘er rip.

  • john

    Besides the recently horrendous defense showing up again last night, that was a crazy exciting game to watch. It felt a lot like that Houston game the other week, but with Green playing the role Dragic played that night.

    What a game! The Suns have guys I feel confident in when the game is getting to crunch time. I wouldn’t mind the ball finding its way to Dragic, Green, or Kieff when the game is on the line and the Suns need a bucket (not to mention Bledsoe). Last year, I couldn’t say that about ONE player. Now I can say it about FOUR.

  • DBreezy

    Great win, especially considering the standings, time of year, and the slow start due to another poor defensive effort. Green is like a better shooting/weaker defending version of Stephen Jackson. He can heat up in a hurry and has that same irrational confidence at all times and it’s fun to watch. Everybody out there played hard last night. They’re a solid East coast trip from pretty much wrapping up a playoff spot, especially if they find a way to split the next two.

  • vtsunrise

    David,
    You seem to have donned the Sunrise cloak!

    A solid East Coast trip will help, but I think this season will really go down to the very last couple of games. Suns-Grizzlies April 14 – second to last game of the season at home. Followed by Memphis playing Dallas and Suns in Sacramento.

    As for splitting the next two, that would be delightful, but I’m not overly optimistic.
    GSW at home: 18-10,
    LAC at home: 25-5.
    The chances of winning the second of a back to back vs. LAC in LAC land – not very good. Maybe they can take it to GSW in a shoot-out!

    Anyway, nice to see DBreezy being optimistic. Keep flying high. Above the rim.

  • vtsunrise

    I never thought I’d say this, but:

    I feel sorry for the Lakers and their fans.

    “Lakers lose not just a game but their dignity in rout by Clippers”

    http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-lakers-clippers-plaschke-20140307,0,888563.column

    “There is a feeling around town — and agreed with here — that the Lakers need to lose as many games as possible to increase their chances of a high pick in this summer’s draft. But do those losses have to come at the price of self-respect? ”

  • vtsunrise

    I think God is punishing Kobe for his arrogance, among other things. You can cheat the justice system, you can do a lot, but don’t f*ck with Father Time or God.

  • sunsn7

    ON TO OAKLAND

  • bawdyscot

    The Lakers are getting everything they deserve and the Laker’s fans doubly so!

  • bill_thomas

    Roundup herbicde should be banned except for use on Kobe.

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