The Thunder did what it was supposed to do on Thursday night in Oklahoma City, taking care of business against the lowly Phoenix Suns. Despite a slow start that included a three-point deficit at the 5:30 mark of the second quarter, OKC finished the first half on a 15-2 run and never looked back — cruising to an easy 115-87 victory.
Russell Westbrook led the way with 27 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists on 11-of-14 shooting. Paul George chipped-in 21 points, Corey Brewer added 17 points, and all five Thunder starters scored in double-figures — combining to shoot 58 percent as a unit.
The win pushes the Thunder record to 38-29 ahead of Saturday night’s showdown with the San Antonio Spurs. Now for some notes on the blowout victory.
52.5: The Thunder shot 52.5 percent from the field, compared to just 33.7 percent for Phoenix.
39.4: The Thunder made 13 three-pointers (39.4 percent), with Phoenix hitting nine (24.3 percent).
+6: The Thunder won 49-43 on the boards.
11: It was a block party for the Thunder tonight, as the team rejected 11 shots.
+14: OKC won 48-34 in the paint
+21: The Thunder outran the Suns, winning the fast break battle 27-6
Corey Brewer was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time and the group responded with a very solid effort. They combined to shoot 35-of-60 from the field (58.3 percent) and 9-of-18 from downtown. Their final stat lines:
Westbrook: 27 pts, 8 reb, 9 ast, 11/14 FG, +27
George: 21 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 4/7 3P, +30
Brewer: 17 pts, 4 reb, 6/11 FG, +26
Adams: 16 pts, 12 reb, 3 blk, 2 stl, 7/8 FG, +27
Melo: 11 pts, 4 reb, 4/11 FG, 3/7 3P, +21
The group logged a little more than 17 minutes on the floor together, outscoring the Suns by 26 points and shooting 63 percent in the process. It goes without saying that Phoenix is a terrible basketball team and this certainly doesn’t mean the Thunder rotation is fixed. That being said — I was into it, I’m not going to lie.
Paul George gets to the rack for a first quarter dunk:
Steven Adams doing a lot of Steven Adams stuff:
Russ finds Corey Brewer on a baseline cut:
Nick Collison dropped a late-game jam and delighted the Thunder bench:
Let’s Talk About Brewer. So Corey Brewer supplanted Josh Huestis in the starting lineup — a move I wasn’t a big fan of. However — and let’s take this with a grain of salt because, you know, Phoenix — he was great tonight. He’s extremely active, plays tough defense, has Westbrookonian energy levels, and seems to be picking things up quickly enough. The 50 percent shooting from downtown shouldn’t be expected, nor should we expect nights like this on a frequent basis. But for one night, against a bad team, he looked like an important piece of the puzzle. Josh Huestis still received 20 minutes of run (eight fewer than Brewer) and was a +6. I don’t mind that split.
T-Ferg. Terrance Ferguson was inexplicably back on the court again in this one — but then left in the third quarter after a nasty head-on collision with Steven Adams. He did not return and is now in the league’s concussion protocol. The play:
Steven Adams. Adams was the best player on the floor for OKC tonight. 16 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, 2 steals, 2 assists — just did a little bit of absolutely everything. He doesn’t get the recognition of his superstar teammates but Big Kiwi is a boss, plain and simple. Great game on both ends of the floor.
The Other Guys. Phoenix had two men in double-figures: Devin Booker (30) and Tyson Chandler (10). Josh Jackson had 6 points at the half but didn’t return after suffering a knee injury. Also — are we ever going to collectively do something about Elfrid Payton’s hair? Let me know.
Last Word. The Suns are 19-48 on the season and simply not a good basketball team. With that out of the way, it was nice to see the Thunder shake off a slow start and put away a poor opponent. The double-digit victory was the first in nearly a month and perhaps, just maybe, this will serve as a springboard headed into Saturday’s game against the Spurs. Here’s to hoping.