The Suns’ home in Phoenix is now officially the Talking Stick Resort Arena, after a hotel/casino in Scottsdale, and I don’t know how much talking they did, but the Suns definitely beat the Thunder with whatever sticks were at hand. Oklahoma City led 28-23 after the first quarter, but Phoenix took over in the second and never, ever let up. At the obligatory around-two-minutes timeout, the Suns led by eight, the same margin they’d had at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and a minute later, they were up nine. The rest of the night, it was Thunder buckets alternating with Suns free throws, and Phoenix wins it 118-111. OKC hasn’t won a road game since late January.
Again, a balanced attack undid the Thunder. The Suns had three starters and three reserves in double figures; Eric Bledsoe posted a team-high 18 points, and Alan Williams had a 14-13 double-double off the bench. And that bench proved formidable, rolling up 55 points. Thunder reserves came up with only 22. Blame ball movement, if you will; the Suns dished up 28 assists, the Thunder merely 14. Russell Westbrook put up 48 points and corralled 17 rebounds. (No triple-double, though: only 9 dimes.) We will tiptoe past OKC’s 9-35 futility from the three-point circle. Back-to-back, you say? Well, yeah, but then Phoenix played last night too. Then again, they were in the friendly confines of the Talking Stick, and they pounded Charlotte something fierce.
Sunday night, it’s off to Dallas, where the Mavs have something to celebrate for once, having knocked off the Grizzlies this evening. The pundits say it’s the arrival of Nerlens Noel that’s making things look easy in Big D. Maybe so. Noel had 15 points and 17 rebounds tonight, and all the starters made double digits, though the Ancient God Dirk had to work hard for his 10. The Thunder aren’t about to fall out of a playoff berth just yet: six and a half games separate them from the eighth-place Nuggets. And really, you’d rather have Denver have to play Golden State, right?