Whatever else may happen this year, one of the biggest stories in the NBA, if you ask me, is the return of the Phoenix Suns, a meager 25-57 last year, to legitimate playoff contention; a win tonight would go a long way to nailing down the #8 seed, what with both the Grizzlies and the Mavericks owning tiebreakers over Phoenix. So the Suns played like there was no tomorrow, and for most of the game maintained a small lead; Oklahoma City pulled ahead at 112-111 with 2:39 left, but Markieff Morris rattled down four points in a row on a layup and two free throws, and after Kevin Durant dribbled into a double-team, P. J. Tucker nailed two more freebies, and Eric Bledsoe added four more just for fun. That made it 121-112 Phoenix, and a Kevin Durant trey in the waning moments went all for naught: the Suns claimed the win, 122-115, the season series 2-1, and maybe, just maybe, that vital #8 spot in the West.
That trey of KD’s gave him 38 points; he’s now gone 25-plus in 41 consecutive games, passing Michael Jordan on the all-time list for such streaks. Russell Westbrook looked pretty good with 33 points in 33 minutes before fouling out. But Serge Ibaka had an off night 11 points, six boards, no blocks and the Thunder bench, led by Reggie Jackson with 11, was utterly outplayed by the Phoenix reserves, led by Gerald Green with 24 and the Morris twins (Markieff and Marcus) with ten apiece.
Not that the Phoenix starters needed tremendous help, mind you; Goran Dragić came up with 26 points on 11-19 shooting by comparison, Durant was 13-28 and P. J. Tucker posted a season-high 22. The Suns were shooting 60 percent into the fourth quarter and finished at 58; the Thunder managed 47, that cold spell at the end dragging the numbers down a bit.
What follows: two West Coast games, one at Sacramento on Tuesday, one at Los Angeles on Wednesday. The Clippers, who beat the Lakers tonight, are 55-23; the Thunder, 55-21. No more need be said.