There was some talk earlier today about how this team, dating back to its days in the Pacific Northwest, was something like 99-0 on New Year’s Eve, which seems unlikely. However, I have to figure that this bit of artificial wisdom was offered in an effort to ward off the possibility that this matchup with Phoenix might have turned into a trap game. And at halftime, with the Thunder up by exactly one point and Russell Westbrook in the locker room with bits of Luis Scola’s elbow embedded in his face, I started looking around for Admiral Ackbar. Not to worry. Oklahoma City ran off twelve consecutive points to start the third quarter, and then Westbrook returned. The final was a not-even-close 114-96, as the Suns’ A-game dropped to about a C-minus.
Then again, the major factor may have been OKC’s unprecedented level of rock control: the Thunder gave up only five turnovers. There have been quarters in the past where five turnovers would have been an improvement. And while the opening moments were marked by balanced scoring, it wound up being a Kevin and Russell Show anyway, with Durant pocketing 30 and Westbrook, in six fewer minutes but with six stitches, finishing with 26. Nick Collison was all over the place, coming up with ten points and nine boards in less than 20 minutes. The only real off night was had by Kevin Martin, who shot a woeful 2-12, yet still ended up +4.
The only double-double of the night went to Marcin Gortat: the tall Sun reeled in ten rebounds while scoring 12. He may have thought he had had an off night. Scola, when he wasn’t throwing body parts around, was sinking lots of shots: he went 10-17 for an efficient 24 points. Jermaine O’Neal led the bench with 12 points in 17 minutes. The Suns fired a lot of blanks from beyond the arc, but truth be told, their 8-24 is no worse, percentagewise, than the Thunder’s 5-15.
Beasts from the East will be visiting this week: the Nets on Wednesday, the Sixers on Friday.