Oklahoma City took care of the Phoenix Suns Monday night to extend their winning streak to 3, after losing 2 in a row to Minnesota and Miami and falling to 6 losses on the season. The Suns unfortunately couldn’t discontinue their six game losing streak, as they were dominated in almost all areas of the floor by the Thunder and lost by nearly 20 points.
Russell Westbrook had a fantastic hard fought, all around game tonight despite missing a few minutes in the second and third quarter after he was elbowed in the face by Jermaine O’Neal. Westbrook had to exit the game to receive stitches over his right eye to stop his bleeding. The All-Star point guard returned in the third quarter and finished the game with 24 points on 7-16 shooting while almost grabbing a triple-double with 7 rebounds and 9 assists. When Westbrook is playing fantastic like he was tonight, scoring 24 points with a FG percentage over 50%, playing aggressive defensive, crashing the boards and handling the ball well as he only turned it over once, the Thunder are arguably the most unstoppable offensive in the league.
Thabo Sefolosha had his second consecutive offensively productive game in a row tonight with 14 points on 6-9 shooting (2-3 3-PT FG), and grabbing 2 rebounds. When Sefolosha can consistently and efficiently hit the 3 pointers like he has during the Thunder’s 3 game winning streak, and the 12 game winning streak they had prior to losing 2 in a row, the Thunder’s offensive is absolutely deadly. Hopefully he can continue to shoot with confidence and play excellent defense so the Thunder have another crack at a long run with the winning again.
Kevin Martin shot horrifically against the Suns Monday, going 2-11 from the field (1-6 3-PT FG) and not doing much else in terms of numbers as he only scored 6 points. Martin just couldn’t find his stroke late in the first quarter. He missed his first few shots and never seemed able to get in a rhythm. He turned the ball over twice and hit a sloppy transition three in the third quarter and that was about it. Though he had a poor night shooting, Scott Brooks kept him in the game in the fourth until the bench came out to end the game. Expect to see a big game from Martin against the Nets Wednesday in OKC.
Nick Collison nearly had another double-double tonight against the Suns, scoring 10 points and grabbing 9 rebounds, 4 of which were offensive rebounds. Collison is amazing at bringing energy off the bench for the Thunder. Every game he’s taking charges and getting offensive rebounds and crazy put-backs. If taking charges was a stat, I’m fairly confident he’d be the leader of it.
Keys to the Game -
Oklahoma City came into tonight’s game second in the league in 3-point field goal percentage, shooting 40.2% on the season. The Suns, however, are one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the league as they are shooting just 33% from beyond the arc this season. The Thunder shot a poor 33% tonight, only making 5 out of 15 shots but holding the suns to the same 33% as they shot 8-24 from the three and never managed to break 100 points.
Turnover Battle: A+
Oklahoma City is the third worst team in turning the ball over in the NBA, turning it over 15.3 times a game. Phoenix on the other hand, is the third best team in the league, averaging only 12.8 a game. Oklahoma City did an amazing job taking care of the ball. They only turned it over 5 times, compared to forcing 13 Phoenix turn overs, and out scoring the Suns 17-4 on points off turn overs. Very good ball handling, and aggressive defense is what won the game tonight for the Thunder, and a lot of it has to do with Russell Westbrook’s extremely talented play and when he takes care of the ball.