It was some time around the 4 minute mark in the fourth quarter. I heard myself thinking: "We'd be winning if Nash was on the court." Anyone with me?
OK, just being honest.
Tonight your Phoenix Suns used a 16-4 fourth quarter run to erase an Oklahoma City Thunder 10 point lead for an improbable yet impressive 104-102 victory. Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 30 points and 9 rebounds, and Jason Richardson scored the last 4 points including the game winner, en route to a 20 point, 13 rebound performance.
It was the Suns 6th victory in their past 8 road games. Overall, the Suns have won 9 of their last 11.
Alvin Gentry: "It's our best win of the year, by far..."
I won't disagree. As I said in the preview, this is the real deal, clutch time, no excuses, eye of the tiger, 110%, blah, blah, yadda yadda.
Some Good Numbers, Some Bad Numbers:
- FG: Suns 51%, Thunder 44%
- Rebounds: Suns 45 Thunder 35
- 3PT%: Suns 53.8% Thunder 25%
The box score looks mostly good, yes? But looking closer, not really all that great. The Suns committed 17 turnovers and missed 10 (ten) free throws. Perhaps this one could have gone a little easier if the Suns hadn't blown that 15 point lead. Of course, they wouldn't be our Suns and this victory wouldn't have been so sweet if us fans didn't have to sweat it out.
Tonight the Suns hung tough for 3 quarters, taking the upper hand in the third quarter off of a 15-6 run. Consecutive threes by Goran Dragic and Grant Hill brought the Suns lead to 11 at 69-58 with 7 minutes in the quarter. Dragic struck again with a short jumper and Jason Richardson added a layup as the Suns lead bulged to 73-58.
It was at about that point in the game when I recall posting something like: "Ugh, no double digit leads, please" in the game thread. The dreaded three of Durant, Westbrook, and Green went to work as that sports phenomenon called a Momentum Shift took place. Durant dropped in 7 points, as Westbrook and Green combined for 8 to shave the Suns lead to 9. The Suns went cold from the field as the Thunder defense tightened and the calls from the officials got more suspect. The Thunder went on a 9-2 run to close out the quarter down by only 4, 82-78.
Then Oklahoma City went on a 13-4 run to start the fourth quarter, as Kevin Durant dropped in 7 points while the Thunder defense continued to stifle the Suns. With 3 minutes and change left, the Suns found themselves down 98-88. After a 20 second time out Jared Dudley hit a three and Amare Stoudemire followed with a dunk to bring the Suns within 5.
With a minute left, the strangest play of the game occurred which caused another Momentum Shift. Grant Hill forced a pass that Jeff Green got a hand on. Green then saved the ball headed out of bounds, past his teammates and into the hands of Amare Stoudemire who hit a driving layup and was fouled on the play. STAT finished off the AND ONE, leaving the Suns down by 2 points. On the following possession, Durant missed a long jumper and Jason Richardson was fouled on the play.
J-Rich hit two clutch free throws, and then Jared Dudley locked down Kevin Durant on the Thunder's following possession, forcing the ball to Westbrook who missed a long three while Green missed the follow.
With 13.4 seconds left, Richardson blew buy a cheating Thabo Sefolosha and dropped in a tear drop floater in the lane for the eventual game winner with .7 seconds left on the clock. Jeff Green missed a three that drew iron as time expired.
- Goran Dragic, showing excellent poise, athleticism, and control as the starter with 16 points, 10 assists, 4 rebounds
- Grant Hill went 8-11 from the field, made 2 big three pointers, and grabbed 9 boards to go with 3 assists
- Jared Dudley and Louis Amundson put in extraordinary defensive efforts. Amundson had 3 blocks and Dudley played Durant tough when it counted.
- Here's to a clutch J-Rich and a Maxesque performance by Stoudemire. Yeah, i said it. It's nice to see some veterans take up the slack with Steve Nash at home nursing his injuries.
I don't want to take anything away from what we witnessed tonight, so I'll keep it short. This was a big win. A really big win. The Suns worked for this, and as with many of their hard fought victories, it was a team effort. Everyone who took the court tonight did something to help the Phoenix Suns win. Enjoy it, all, the Suns broke the Thunder's 9 game winning streak, in Oklahoma. Without Steve Nash.
Grant Hill (on Richardson game winner):
"That was the play we drew up. If he had an open look he was supposed to take it. If not, then make something happen. He did, he went through his legs, crossed over and shot a floater. It was good."
"I just said we had five minutes to go and we had all the time in the world to come back and have an opportunity to win. It was going to have to be with our defense not with our offense. We had to have stops to get back in the game. I thought we tightened up our defense and did a good job."
"It's hard to be like Steve. I was talking before the game to one of our assistant coaches and I said I just had to play my game. When I'm playing my game I'm more comfortable."
Jason Richardson (tweet)
"Man that was a huge win for us. Everybody pick up their game in absence of (Steve Nash)"
Amare Stoudemire (tweet)
"Great game tonight. We have to get the one tomorrow. We play the 76'ers. Let's go!!"
"I need 60k followers. Tell your friends to follow ya boy. Let's go!!"
Next up, Philadelphia at home, tomorrow, 7 PM, MST