Something I wasn’t expecting to say this season: “The Thunder bench was led by Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot with 12 points.” But it happened, a by-product of Terrance Ferguson’s absence for personal reasons and the late scratch of Alex Abrines. TLC pulled down four rebounds, and served up an assist as well, prompting Billy Donovan to give him extended minutes. And maybe, after three games out of 15 against the Suns, OKC has learned a little bit about how Phoenix operates. (Unfortunately, they only play them once more in the next 67.) It never hurts, of course, to start a road trip with a win, and 110-100 over the Suns is indeed a win, even though Phoenix put together an 11-0 run in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Come to think of it, the Suns were missing one of their mainstays: veteran forward Trevor Ariza had personal matters to attend to as well. Still, the Valley Guys actually outshot the Thunder by a smidgen more than a percentage point, and T. J. Warren, as usual, led the squad with 23. Devin Booker came up with a double-double (18 points, 11 assists), and rookie center Deandre Ayton pushed through a highly-creditable 19. The Thunder, however, utterly dominated the boards (52-31), and they’ve evidently been working on their free throws (27 of 32, 84 percent). Steven Adams battled with Ayton pretty much all night, and rose to a season high of 26 points, with 10 boards beside. The heaviest of heavy lifters was once again Paul George, with 32 points including 11 of 11 free throws, and 11 rebounds to see if you were paying attention. No explanation was given for Russell Westbrook, who was listed as away for personal reasons rather than as injured. Go figure.
Let’s face it, if you start the season 0-4 and find yourself 10-5 a couple of weeks later, you must be doing something right; ten and five is good enough to tie the Trail Blazers, who had the night off, for first in the Northwest. And hell, even the mighty Warriors have five losses. (Draymond? Kevin? Keep it up.) But the Kings are playing .500 ball right now, and they can be ferocious at home — and they’re next.