It wasn't a win, but tonight's 113-110 loss to the Thunder can leave us all feeling a lot better about the state of this season's Suns. Run out of the building from the first quarter Wednesday, it was the Suns who jumped out on the Thunder tonight, leading well into the fourth quarter before Russell Westbrook and Oklahoma City proved to be too much.
T.J. Warren was the story as he led the Suns with a career high 30 points and 9 rebounds on 13-18 shooting from the field. Brandon Knight chipped in 19, and Eric Bledsoe 17. Devin Booker struggled through an awful shooting night with 8-25 from the field, but made some clutch shots down the stretch in OT before having his attempt at a game-winner blocked in finishing with 21 points.
The Suns came out of the gate scorching in tallying 40 first quarter points to build a lead which grew as big as 18. They never trailed in the first half, led by Warren's 15. Unfortunately, the bench struggled again in the second quarter, and the lead shrunk in a hurry as the Thunder's dynamic backcourt duo or Westbrook and Victor Oladipo started cranking with 27 combined first half points.
A 13 point second quarter left the Suns halftime lead at only 4 at 53-49 as the hot shooting cooled to a frigid chill.
Things started getting a little chippy in the third, with Westbrook (who else?) and Warren in the middle of the action. Warren was T-ed up for slapping the ball at Westbrook after a foul, and lots of trash talk. Westbrook sometimes feeds off of such conflicts and ended up with a triple-double of 51 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. It took him 44 FGAs to get there, but still classic Westbrook.
But the Suns never backed down, denying every Thunder push before finally relinquishing the lead in the fourth at 97-96. At that point, tired players in only their second game of the season attempted haymakers before Westbrook (who else?) scored the game winner, blowing through the Suns defense for a layup.
This was an entertaining NBA game, and several young Suns showed promise, especially when you consider they were on the road in a tough environment to win. Let's hope the rest of the season looks more like this and less like the opener.