We were still in the first quarter when Judge Radar observed:
Yeppers! This is a trap game in Phoenix, yet again….
— Judge Radar (@OKCNightCourt) March 3, 2018
The Suns were racking up second-chance points like crazy and led 37-32 after one, 67-60 at the half. The Thunder slowly clawed their way back, but there were obstacles:
There were approximately 87 fouls in the last two possessions. One was called.
— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) March 3, 2018
The result of all this: 116-116 at the 1:00 mark. Russell Westbrook, who’d scored the last two Thunder points, picked up three more on a feed from Steven Adams, got a stop, and burned up as much of the clock as he could, helped get another stop, and … well, nobody gets in Westbrook’s way when he’s on a roll. The Thunder went 8-0 in that last minute and won it 124-116 despite 39 points from Devin Booker, 19 from both T. J. Warren and Josh Jackson, and an 18-10 double-double from Efrid Payton.
And “despite” does seem to be the word: Westbrook, who went 43-14-8 (!), wound up +2 for the night. Adams, ‘Melo and PG all were plus-er, though Anthony and George both were shooting blah-ish 6-18. More interesting: both teams shot 46-96, and both hit 11 three-pointers, though the Suns took only 25 shots to get them, the Thunder needing 34.
Frighteningly, this is supposed to be the easier game of this back-to-back; tomorrow it’s off to Portland, a place where opponents’ winning streaks go to die. The Blazers are one game (and two seeds) ahead, and have won five straight. Meanwhile, the Pelicans, half a game behind OKC, have won seven straight, so the playoff picture could change very, very quickly.