Suns Outplayed in 4th, Lose to Thunder 124-103
The Phoenix Suns dropped their ninth consecutive game in Oklahoma City to the Thunder, 124-103. The Suns kept the game close until the fourth quarter; where the Thunder took advantage of cold Suns’ shooting and went on to outplay the Suns in nearly every facet of the game.
The first quarter saw the Thunder get off to a hot start, with the Suns struggling to keep the game close early on. Russell Westbrook came out firing, creating havoc for Phoenix ball handlers on defense and putting the pressure on Suns defenders by continually penetrating to the hoop. Eric Bledsoe was the only one to match Westbrook’s early intensity, scoring 15 points on six-for-seven shooting. The Suns bench came to life in the last minutes of the first quarter, outscoring the Thunder 15-0 before the first quarter buzzer sounded. The bench’s efforts tied the game at 29-29, with the momentum in the Suns’ favor.
The lineup of Bledsoe, Archie Goodwin, T.J. Warren, Jon Leuer, and Alex Len stayed in the game to start the second quarter in hopes of continuing the charge from the first quarter. Len made his impact felt early in the quarter with back to back aggressive moves going right at Enes Kanter. Thunder swingman Dion Waiters then came to life, pushing the Thunder ahead with a mirage of tough jump shots that all found the bottom of the net. The Suns did everything they could to keep the game close, trailing by just six at halftime, 60-54.
The second half was full of break-neck, back-and-forth basketball with the Thunder starters taking control of the game. The duo of Westbrook and Kevin Durant played like the all-stars they are, consistently getting buckets to slowly extend the lead throughout the third quarter. The fourth quarter is where the Suns seemed to fall apart, turning the ball over numerous times with the Thunder taking advantage of every opportunity handed to them.
Bledsoe was the best player for the Suns tonight, hands down. He came away with 28 points and 11 assists while playing solid defense on Westbrook. Warren chipped in 17 off the bench and has shown improvement in his defense as of late, giving Durant some troubles a couple times down the floor. Durant outscored his season average by two points, giving him 32 points to go with 11 rebounds and four assists. Westbrook had an all-around good night scoring 21 points, dishing 13 assists, and pulling down six rebounds.
- Bledsoe played hard-nosed basketball tonight. He attacked the paint at will, drawing fouls, making layups, or dishing to the open man. Bledsoe’s intensity and aggressiveness have been on full display this season which I believe rubs off on the rest of the team. Although he may not be a vocal leader, he lets his effort on the court do his talking. It is nice to have a player like Bledsoe to rely on night in and night out.
- Coach Jeff Hornacek’s rotations have been very sporadic this season, especially for the guards. Archie Goodwin was the first in off the bench and played 14 minutes tonight (10 minutes in the first half) after rarely seeing the floor so far this season. Goodwin’s athleticism and size got him in the game early tonight to match up with the athletic Thunder backcourt. The versatile Jon Leuer looks to have taken away the majority of Mirza Teletovic’s minutes as of now. It would be nice to see a little more consistency in the rotation, but, it is still early in the season.
- Morris is playing unenthusiastically so far this season, rarely crashing the boards and not taking care of the basketball. He’s not shy about getting up his shots though, averaging nearly 16 shots per game while only shooting 36% from the field. While Morris has never been a high-energy player, this does not bode well for him amongst Suns fans. His slow starts and sub-par FG% hinder his otherwise impressive looking stats.
- Kyle Singler looks like an overgrown twelve-year-old. I bet he still gets the crusts cut off his sandwiches.
The Suns will have a few days off before the Los Angeles Clippers come to town Thursday night, November 12th with tip-off coming at 8:30 pm MST.