Let me start by saying that in this league, no matter who you play, you got to bring your A game every night. Every win counts. A win is a win. Period.
The Thunder are full of talent, just like Stan told Joe on their Pre-Game Interview, I feel that their record does not show how good they are. This is a young team that feeds from the crowd, and if you let your guard down in their building it can turn ugly really fast.
Let's get on to the game notes.
The Suns seemed to be sleepwalking in the first quarter, this could be due to the days off or underestimating the opponent. The defense was really bad (to say the least) and it seemed that The Thunder were scoring at will. They looked like the old Suns, running, cutting to the basket and getting highlight dunks and assists that will surely be on the top ten tonight. To make things even worse, just into 9 minutes of the first quarter Nash got hurt on a beautiful pick and roll play with Amundson who finished an AND1 play. Nash signaled coach Porter to get him out of the game and never came back. It was later reported that Nash had back spasms.
With Nash out of the game, it was LB's opportunity to shine and he didn't disappoint. He had a poor shooting night going 4-11 but delivered defensively with -are you ready for this- 6 steals! He was very active on D and had 5 assists. I don't care if he doesn't score 20+ points, I want this type of effort from him every night. That is exactly what we need. We have plenty offensive power.
Talking about offensive power...
Let's start with:
The Big Tweet: 28 points, 10-12 shooting from the field, 8-12 FTs. Shaq keeps playing at a high level no matter who we play, he is rebounding, boxing out, blocking shots. This is more that we could have asked for when we heard he was coming to town. He has all the right to get pissed when the Suns lose because he is trying his best out there.
J-Sun Richardson (he just became J-Sun again, sort of): Richardson seemed to be playing with a chip on his shoulder. He was very aggressive on the offensive end and finished with 20 points, but needed 20 shots for that. He went all "Slam Dunk champion" on the Thunder and showed off a 360 Dunk that Raja Bell would only make on a Playstation game.
The Bench: Although Shaq and most of the starters played really well, I feel that this game was won by the bench. Matt Barnes contributed with 19 points and was very active on the glass. He nailed his usual "dagger" threes and had two steals and two assists to go with that.
We saw Dee Brown and Jared Dudley for the first time, they came out with energy wanting to show the boss that they can also play. Dudley only scored 2 points but he had a +7 when he was on the floor just when the thunder were making their late come back. Amundson continues to play with a lot of energy and good things always happen when he is on the court.
Amaré was a non factor in this game due to early foul trouble. He looked like last's year Amaré (Before the Shaq trade) trying too hard and getting called for silly fouls. I can't even remember the last time he fouled out but his head was certainly not in the game. It's hard to complain about him since he has played really well as of lately. I'll cut him some slack on this one.
Guys having career nights against us is becoming a common thing. Westbrook apparently ate something before the game because he is a career 28% three point shooter and nailed 3-4 tonight. It seemed that everything he shot went in. We continue to have problems containing guards and this time we can't blame it on Nash. Porter needs to address this issue with his coaching staff to determine a strategy, help from the weak side, double team but please just do something!
Final Thoughts: Overall I feel it was a solid win against a team we are supposed to beat. Let's hope Nash is Ok and he can come back to the lineup as soon as possible. We had several scares during the game where Richardson seemed to hyperextend his knee and Matt Barnes looked like he had really hurt himself. Like ArizonaCactus said in the game thread...we are one injury away from doom.