This is the first day of Standard Time, and the Phoenix Suns were in town, but they were not at all inclined to go away early. It wasn’t until the last half of the fourth quarter that the Thunder started to pull away, and the PHX prowess with the three-ball kept bringing the Suns back. Six free throws four by Russell Westbrook, then two by Kevin Durant finally put OKC out of reach. It was 103-96 at the horn, and there were the usual festivities at the ‘Peake.
Yes, that was a reference to Westbrook, who did in fact start tonight. He played 33 minutes, so presumably the brakes weren’t on; he didn’t shoot particularly well (5-16), but he made 11 of 14 at the stripe and served up seven dimes to go with his 21 points, pretty much a textbook Westbrook line. And the Russmeister’s return meant that the bench could act like a proper bench for once; they kicked in 35 points, including ten from Reggie Jackson and nine from Derek Fisher, and actually posted higher plus/minus numbers than the starters. What the Thunder could not do, once again, was make the long ball: they hit only two (both by KD, who had 33 points and 10 rebounds) of eighteen.
The Suns, meanwhile, put up thirty-seven from outside, and made 14 of them. They also had a slight edge in rebounding (43-41). Goran Dragić was back, but exited early with an injury; Eric Bledsoe posted a team-high 26 and sixth man Gerald Green knocked down 21, including five treys. If this is supposed to be the worst team in the West but no, let’s not go there. Say I was impressed with their persistence, and leave it at that.
The Mavs will be here Wednesday, with an atypical, and presumably television-required, 8:30 tipoff. I’m thinking this could be a humdinger.