Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Brewer got the start and the Thunder dominated for much of the game as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the hapless Phoenix Suns 115-87 on Thursday night.

Oklahoma City improves to 38-29 on the year, ending a two-game losing streak. With the victory, the Thunder eliminated the Suns from playoff contention. It doesn’t mean much as the Suns were on their way out the door anyway.

Oklahoma City is now tied for sixth in the Western Conference playoff race.

After taking a 49-38 lead into the break, Oklahoma City captured the momentum, pushing out their lead to 20 points on multiple occasions in the second half.

Oklahoma City had a 10-4 burst to start the fourth quarter, putting Oklahoma City up 98-71 with 7:31 remaining in the game, their largest lead.

Russell Westbrook put on a display. Westbrook had 27 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. His efficiency was off the charts. He went 11-of-14 from the floor, his best shooting percentage with 10 or more attempts since March 2014 against Charlotte.

“He set the table for everybody tonight,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “Tonight he just totally controlled the game.”

The Thunder now have won 13 straight against Phoenix dating back to Dec. 2010.

In his first Thunder start, Corey Brewer exploded, providing energy and excitement the Thunder have been missing since the loss of Andre Roberson. Sure, it’s the Phoenix Suns, but Brewer scored 17 points and added a defensive presence that was well received throughout the Peake.

Brewer’s first start came at the expense of Josh Huestis, who had started the previous seven games. Brewer went 6-of-11 from the floor.

“I feel more comfortable,” Brewer said. “I’m learning the system and each day is getting easier. For me I know how to fit. I’ve been in the league so long I know how to fit.”

The Thunder defense was spectacular, holding the Suns to only 33.7 percent from the floor and only 24.3 percent from beyond the arc. The field goal defense was the second best, in terms of percentage all season long. Oklahoma City was locked in from the beginning.

“We did a good job of just being aggressive and making them shoot tough shots,” Westbrook said. “Using our size on them and defending at a high rate.”

Devin Booker, the Suns super star who’s really thwarted the Thunder over the last year or so, struggled. While his percentages were well and he scored 30 points, eh had to earn every bit of it.

Paul George added 21 points, Steven Adams 16, and Carmelo Anthony 11 in the victory.

The Thunder will host the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday night on ABC at 7:30 p.m. Oklahoma City was dropped by the Warriors in their previous ABC showing.

If the Thunder are able to slip by the Spurs on Saturday night, the Thunder would own sole possession of fifth place in the Western Conference playoff race.

Keys to the Game

Three Pointers: A+

Oklahoma City shot 40 percent from deep while holding the Suns below 25 percent. Outside of Devin Booker, the Suns were only 18.5 percent (5-of-27). This level of defensive production can really propel the Thunder into contention again.

Rebounding: A+

The Thunder pulled down 49 rebounds and really controlled the boards all evening long. It starts with Steven Adams, who finished with 12 rebounds, six of them offensive. Phoenix has no real answer for Adams and the Thunder made them pay all night.

Turnovers: C

Oklahoma City has to do a better job of taking care of the ball. They had 18 turnovers tonight, 15 through three quarters. On the bright side of it all, Westbrook only had two of them. Still, the Thunder cannot turn the ball over like this against good teams and expect to win.

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Chuck Chaney

Founder & Editor-in-Chief.
Member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

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