As the home stretch rolls on, the Suns were faced with a challenge Sunday night, squaring off against one of the best in the west in the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was one of the games where the Suns were the underdog, but it was a game that the Suns needed to maintain their playoff aspirations. The Suns, whose energy and ability to hit the on switch at the perfect time seem limitless, defeated the Thunder in a high-scoring throwdown with a final score of 122-115.
The Suns maintained a lead for most of the first half, and jumped out to take a 62-53 lead at halftime. The Suns, who seem to have a flare for the dramatic, did allow the Thunder to come back from a fourteen point deficit. The final quarter became a back and forth duel, with no team being able to get control until the Suns went on a run that gave them a big cushion. A steal by Eric Bledsoe from Kevin Durant led to a Thunder block which led to another steal immediately by Tucker, whose free throws gave the Suns a needed cushion. OKC was in the penalty with five team fouls after two and a half minutes in the fourth, which proved to be their undoing.
The Thunder went into this game having shot 15 for 61 from deep in previous meetings against the Suns. They were 9-32 tonight, including an ugly 4-15 from Kevin Durant. Durant, however, added 33 points for OKC, topping Michael Jordan’s streak of 40 consecutive games scoring 25+. Russell Westbrook added 33 for the Thunder.
On the Suns side, Goran Dragic broke out of a recent slump, dropping 26 points and five assists. Needless to say, this is good for the Suns, as Dragic’s recent struggled contributed to two losses to both LA teams, and he will need to be at top form for the Suns again-revived playoff hopes to come to fruition.Eric Bledsoe helped out with 18 and Gerald Green followed up a 41 point outburst in the previous meeting by dropping 24 points off the bench and shooting 5-7 from deep.
The big story was P.J. Tucker, who had a career high 22 points, a career high fur made three pointers, and seven rebounds. It is nice to see a guy like Tucker, who does all the dirty work without the glamor, get the chance to be a driving force on offense from time to time.
The Suns improve to 46-31 with this big win. A loss by Memphis gives the Suns a one game lead for the final seed in the west. They’ll need to continue this streak on Wednesday, when the travel to face Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.
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