NBA: Suns battle back to defeat NBA’s best team
In what most likely will go down as one of the most exciting games of the Phoenix Suns (36-25) season, they came away victorious 128-122 in an offensive shootout against the best team in the NBA, Oklahoma City (46-16).
The Suns trailed right from the get-go as the Thunder raced out to an 18-8 lead early in the first, eventually winning that quarter 41-32. Russell Westbrook had three breakaway slams, while posting 13 points in the frame. The Suns used a late second quarter push to trim the Thunder lead, as OKC took a 65-61 lead into halftime.
The third quarter is when the game got crazy. The Thunder started the period on a 30-19 run, pushing the lead to 96-80 with 3:47 left. The Suns could have waved the white flag and rested their starters for the upcoming road trip, but they thought different about it. Gerald Green “take over mode” was initiated. Green hit three three-point shots within a minute and a half, before PJ Tucker’s three-pointer pushed the Suns out in front 99-98 with 36 seconds left.
The fourth quarter did not disappoint either. A corner three-pointer from Marcus Morris put the Suns up 108-101. The Thunder wanted to prove their resilience as well, battling back to take a 118-116 lead with 2:43 remaining. Goran Dragic (22 points, 4 assists) came out the time-out with a tough layup to tie the game, following that with a mid-range jumper to regain the lead. A lead that would never again be given up as the Morris twins each knocked down a pair of free throws in the final seconds, sending the Phoenix faithful home happy.
Green finished the game with a career high 41 points (12-22 FG, 8-13 3FG), 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. Markieff Morris played an amazing game, finishing with 24 points and 6 rebounds off the bench. Phoenix as a team shot 15-24 on three-point shot attempts.
Kevin Durant “only” had 34 points (12-24 FG, 7-7 FT), 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. It was his 27th consecutive game with at least 25 points. That stat ties him with Allen Iverson for the second-most games in a row all-time reaching 25 points, trailing only his own record of 29 games.
Westbrook nearly had a triple-double in the losing effort, scoring 36 points, dishing out 9 assists, and swallowing up 9 rebounds. He also had 4 steals.
Growing up I went to many Golden State Warriors home games at Oracle Arena and the crowd tonight at US Airways Center was as electric, if not more raucous than “Dub Nation”. When PJ Tucker hit the three to give the Suns the lead at the end of the third quarter, the seismographs throughout the Valley registered an earthquake. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the arena was rocking to say the very least.
You can reach Brendan Kennealy through email Brendan.firstname.lastname@example.org and/or via Twitter at @Brendankennealy