Tonight Kevin Durant led the Oklahoma City Thunder with 35 points en route to a 96-91 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
That's a mundane opening summary of this game. I wrote it because I still sit here, perplexed as to what just happened. A brief look into the numbers:
- FG%: Suns 45% (34-75) Thunder 39% (35-88)
- Rebounds: Suns 46 Thunder 39
- 3PT%: Suns 7-19 (36%) Thunder 4-13 (30%)
- Bench Points: Suns 31 OKC 21
That doesn't look too bad. Unfortunately that's only half the story:
- Offensive Rebounds: OKC 12 Suns 11
- Steals: OKC 11 Suns 4
- Turnovers: Suns 20 OKC 13
- Free Throws: OKC 81% (22-27) Suns 69% (16-23)
Above you can surmise why the Suns lost. Yes Joey Crawford made some strange and perhaps ridiculous calls, go ahead and talk conspiracy as it relates to the NBA admitting Durant was fouled in Utah and all that. Bottom line-the Suns lost this game.
Phoenix began the game looking sharp as they sunk their first 5 shots and led early 13-4. But the Thunder quickly erased that deficit, mostly by hitting the boards (8 offensive rebounds in the 1st) and led by one at the end of the opening quarter, 32-31.
In the second, Kevin Durant scored 8 points and Serge Ibaka 7 to pace the Thunder while the Suns committed 5 turnovers and missed their first 6 field goal attempts before recovering towards the end of the half.
Most of us on the game thread predicted an Alvin Gentry halftime verbal thrashing aimed at his players. I'm nearly positive that occurred, but the result of afore mentioned assumed tongue lashing was not good-at all. The Suns sauntered out for the 3rd and promptly scored 12 (twelve) points. Simply put, they didn't make stops, they didn't make shots, and they turned the ball over 8 (eight) times. The Suns were only down 10 points at the end of 3, but it certainly seemed like more.
In the 4th, a 9-0 run keyed by 3's courtesy of Goran Dragic and Leandro Barbosa left the Suns down only 3, (85-82). Were you feeling deja vu? There was plenty of time left, and visions of a J-Rich teardrop should have been in dancing in your head. A Steve Nash layup brought the game to 89-86 Thunder. The Suns D forced an OKC shot clock violation on the next possession, but Channing Frye rushed a 3 with a defender draped all over him, resulting in an air ball.
After an Ibaka basket, Steve Nash sunk 2 free throws. But Jeff Greene answered with 2 of his own and Nash had his shot blocked by Russell Westbrook on the ensuing possession...and that was the game.
The Thunder wanted this one more than the Suns, plain and simple. Yes they are talented, young, athletic, long, and they have Kevin Durant, too. The played great defense against the Suns tonight. The officiating was questionable and at times ridiculous, but that's the way it goes. It's no excuse to lose.
The Suns lost this one mentally. They lost this one on the boards. When they weren't giving the rock away to the Thunder, they were letting them own the paint and the rim. At times this one looked like a layup drill-a Thunder layup drill. Sloppy play: rushed shots, turnovers, nearly no defense (sans Amare's 4 blocks), no rhythm. Until the 4th, the Suns never sustained a run to put doubt in the mind of the young Thunder squad. This commentator saw a lack of desire out there. Amare, while posting a nice offensive line, also committed 5 turnovers and missed 3 of his 7 free throw attempts while adding a technical foul. Steve Nash was only 4-9 with 4 turnovers. Jason Richardson scored 10 of his 12 points in the first quarter. Channing Frye sported a line of 6 points, 3 rebounds, 3 turnovers and 6 personal fouls.
Let's hope it is a wake up call, because there is a lot of basketball to be played, Lopez or no Lopez.
Props (and there are only a few):
- Amare Stoudemire: 24 points 15 rebounds 4 blocked shots
- Steve Nash 11 points, 12 assists
- Louis Amundson: 8 points 7 rebounds
- Goran Dragic 8 points 5 rebounds
Quote (This says it all):
"We didn't get a lot of movement. We got stagnant. We missed shots. We had a lot of perimeter shots without penetration. We had turnovers. We had fumbles. We were sloppy. That set us behind, and we had too much to come back from on a night that we didn't seem to have the emotion. We tried. We fought back. We tried to manufacture it, but it wasn't a natural pool of emotions. We just couldn't get that electricity."
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