But it ended with the Suns winning comfortably over a rest-depleted Thunder team who was sitting half their rotation on the second game of a back to back. The Thunder were resting three starters and a primary backup: Steven Adams, Nerlens Noel, Shai Gilgeous Alexander AND Danilo Gallinari. They were also missing Dennis Schroder, who’s been out all Bubble. The Suns are still missing Kelly Oubre Jr. and Aron Baynes.
Suns win 128-101.
The Suns are now 6-0 in the bubble, 32-39 on the season, and only half a game out of 9th place with two games to go!
We wanted the Ayton game, but we got the exact opposite of the one we all wanted. This was the ‘Ayton let everyone down again’ game by missing his COVID-19 testing window on the off day on Sunday and not getting his results in time for tip-off of the early start Monday morning.
When the game started it was ‘no Ayton, no bueno’ for the Suns cohesiveness or effort level. Dario Saric got the start, and the Suns got down by 15 (37-22) before righting the ship with a big in the second quarter. For a long time, they just looked completely out-efforted by the very active Thunder squad all channeling Chris Paul.
The second quarter comeback included Deandre Ayton coming off the bench. Maybe Monty only wanted to dock Ayton a quarter, or maybe Monty just didn’t want to see any more Frank. With Ayton in, the Suns pulled back within five points by mid-quarter and now it was a game again.
Still, the Thunder kept winning all the 50/50 balls even in the second quarter when the Suns were coming back, and also kept making a bunch of threes (8-16 to start). But the Suns kept hanging around.
When Cameron Payne drew a hard foul late in the second quarter with the Suns down 60-55, it ended up with a Suns technical free throw plus two more free throws and the ball... and they were back within two. One possession later, Payne tied it on a drive (60-60).
Chris Paul did Chris Paul things though, and got the Thunder back up four before Devin Booker drew a three-point play the old fashioned way, and then the Suns took their first lead of the game on a Carter steal and Ayton finish!
Suns lead, 65-64 at halftime.
The second half was much like the second quarter, with the Suns pulling ahead steadily all quarter. The topper came from Devin Booker draining a three from almost half-court, flat-footed at the end of a shot clock!
After that third quarter, Booker became the franchise leader in career 30-point games with 90 (tied with Walter Davis). He’s only 23 years old folks.
The lead stretched to 16 on a Cam Payne three (95-79) before play got fast and furious on both ends with a bunch of effort highlighted by missed shots. This game was clearly in the Suns hands.
The Suns outscored OKC 33-17 in the third quarter after beating them 42-27 in the second.
Devin Booker did not even have to play in the 4th quarter, which is totally helpful for tomorrow’s game against the 76ers on a back-to-back.
We got Jalen Lecque time when the Suns got up 121-96 over the now-hapless Thunder.
SUNS KEEP ON ROLLING! SIX STRAIGHT WINS BAYBEEEEEE!
Suns play the Sixers on a back-to-back tomorrow at lunch time. Definitely no Ben Simmons. Maybe no Joel Embiid (ankle).