Apparently you can mess up for three quarters as long as you make up for it in the fourth. The Thunder trailed by as many as sixteen points in the third, then poured it on. “Total eclipse of the Suns,” said radio guy Matt Pinto, and he wasn’t kidding: that fourth quarter went 31-16 OKC, as the Thunder dispatched Phoenix 115-104. But it took some heroic effort to pull that off: Russell Westbrook had 31 points (and ten assists); Serge Ibaka had 18 points (and twenty rebounds, nine offensive, a career high); James Harden had 30 points (a career high), as did Kevin Durant (close to his average).
Your telltale statistic: Steve Nash got 13 assists in the first half — and finished with 13. It took the Thunder somewhere on the far side of 24 minutes to figure out what the Suns were doing. In the meantime, six Suns finished in double figures, three with double-doubles; Marcin Gortat was formidable, with 28 points and 11 boards, and in the first half he could do no wrong. Second half? Not so much. Phoenix hadn’t been relying much on the long ball, but in the fourth quarter they peppered the air with them, hoping the Thunder defense around the perimeter was porous. Like granite, maybe: not one of those fell, and the Suns wound up 3-19 for distance.
But then there’s another telltale statistic: Harden got all 30 of the bench points and finished +27, but Royal Ivey, who put up four treys himself to no avail, was +23. In the 22nd century, box scores will show all the “intangibles.”
And the Cavs will be here Friday, the Bobcats Saturday. Were I Scott Brooks, I’d hang a picture of Admiral Ackbar in the locker room.