The Phoenix Suns have been scraping the bottom of the Western Conference most of the season, and after 13 consecutive losses, you’d think they might be somehow demoralized. Not so. They’d beaten the Thunder once this season already, and tonight, they were in fine form to do it again. Perhaps you could blame the absence of Alex Abrines and Andre Roberson, but we’re not buying: the Suns came out fighting, and they didn’t let up for even one of those 48 minutes. (We’re also not buying the notion that Russell Westbrook might be playing for stats; he clinched that triple-double season average early on, and if anything, he was flailing about randomly late in the game before exiting in favor of Semaj Christon.) The Thunder shot a miserable 37 percent and hit a mere seven of 30 three-pointers on the way to a staggering 120-99 loss to the Suns, who earned a split of the season series. And if anyone looked Westbrook-like tonight, it was Phoenix guard Devin Booker, who picked up 37 points on 13-29 shooting, five of nine treys, and a tie for game-high +21 with teammate T. J. Warren (23 points). Seems only fair, given that Booker, a week and a half ago, rang up 70 points against the Celtics, and the Suns still lost.
Doug McDermott got his first start in Thunder blue; he knocked down 11 points in 40 minutes. Steven Adams was in decent form with a double-double (12-11), and as usual, Enes Kanter led the bench with 17. But all of them took too many shots for too little return: McBuckets and Adams both went 4-10, Kanter 5-14, and, lest we forget, Westbrook 6-25.
The last three games of the season are against Northwest rivals, though the division standings are not likely to change: Utah wins the division outright, Denver and Portland are still in a race for third, and Minnesota is mired at the bottom. Two games against the Nuggets and one against the Wolves will leave at least three of five positions unchanged. Houston has third in the conference locked down, so the Thunder will play the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. It would be unwise to speculate beyond the first round, especially after tonight’s poor road showing.