Phoenix phatigued

If the Thunder could play four consecutive quarters like the fourth quarters of this game, they’d be something like 31-3 by now. And they did it without Paul George and Alex Abrines, who were scratched before tipoff, and without Terrance Ferguson, who departed early after taking ill. Through the first 36 minutes, OKC was down three to the Suns, but after that, the combination of Thunder awesomeness and apparent Phoenix tiredness — the Suns had been on a semi-grueling East Coast trip before coming home — it was strictly a boys-in-blue affair, the Thunder outscoring the Suns 37-18 to claim a 118-102 win, a sweep of the four-game season series, and an end to that losing streak before it got beyond two games.

What kind of game was this? It was the kind where Nerlens Noel can finish +11 for the night without scoring one point. (He had three rebounds, a block and four steals, easily justifying his 11 minutes of playing time.) It was the kind when your All-Star small forward is ailing, and you replace him with the backup point guard. (Dennis Schröder knocked down 20 points for a game-high +25.) It was the kind when Russell Westbrook doesn’t get a triple-double and you could not possibly care less. (40-12-8, am I right?) And it was the kind where Abdel Nader, who’d scored something like 10 points all year, makes scoring 18 look easy. Still, you have to wonder how things might have gone if the Suns, led (as expected) by Devin Booker with 25 points and 10 assists, hadn’t run out of gas at the end. And here’s a number I don’t remember seeing before: 76 points in the paint. (The Suns had a respectable 48.)

The weird December schedule continues to be weird. Sunday night, the road trip finishes in Dallas; Monday, the Thunder come home to play, um, Dallas. Maybe they can split a plane and save a few bucks.

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