Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

The Suns made it somewhat close but a 15-2 run by the Thunder put the game out of reach as the Thunder won ….

The Thunder improved to 8-5 on the season and now have won eight of their last nine games.

“I thought we played really great first half, both offensively and defensively,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said.

With no Russell Westbrook for the fourth straight games, the Thunder used a 22-0 run in the first quarter to grab the lead from the Suns and never look back.

The Suns led 5-3. Sure, seemed like a long time ago, but the Suns missed 10 straight shots over that span as the Thunder’s defense was suffocating. The Thunder forced four turnovers and held the Suns to zero free throws over that time frame.

The lead ballooned to 24-5 lead before the Suns could really do anything. The Thunder saw their lead push to as high as 28 points in the first half, really putting it on Phoenix.

Paul George hit buckets largely in the first half. He was 7-of-10 with five money balls. The Thunder had an answer for almost every single Suns point in the first half. It led to the Thunder having a 64-40 lead at the break.

That’s kinda where the wheels started to fall off. It was like Arthur Morgan led his horse off the side of the ravine. Sure, the horse was hurt and you had to use some reviver, but the Thunder rode the comeback wave from the Suns and survived.

“There are things in the third quarter we could do better,” Donovan said.

The Suns cut it to as low as seven points in the fourth quarter but the closing was as good as the Thunder have done — sans Westbrook — all season.

“Their physicality got the game a little choppy,” Donovan said. “In that third quarter they made some shots.”

Oklahoma City went on a 14-4 run, separating themselves from the Suns, who shot 57.5 percent in the second half. The win was capitalized on an alley oop off the glass from George to Jerami Grant. The Suns put the fear into the Thunder but unlike a couple of weeks ago, the Thunder closed out the game properly.

“We got stops and I thought it was a good response from the Dallas game,” Donovan said.

The Thunder shot just under 47 percent from the field and hit 13 three-pointers, shooting 48.1 percent. They were 19-of-20 from the free throw line. It’s the best free throw percentage for the Thunder since they shot 96 percent (24-of-25) on Dec. 11, 2017.

Paul George finished with 32 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Dennis Schröder had 20 points and nine assists for the Thunder. Steven Adams dominated Deandre Ayton with 18 points and seven rebounds.

The Thunder will now host Enes Kanter and the New York Knicks on Wednesday night at the ‘Peake. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. It’s going to be the first time the Thunder are going to wear their turquoise uniforms.

Keys to the Game

Start fast: A+

Oklahoma City used a 22-0 run to put this game out of reach early. The Thunder need to do this against bad teams. You aren’t going to get a 22-0 run but you could have a double digit lead after the first quarter.

Make Free throws: A+

19-of-20 from the line? Yep. Everyone is going to take that every time. The Thunder do this more often and they’re going to be awfully hard to be beat by anyone.

Limit second chance points: C

While they had 17 points on 10 offensive rebounds, it’s what happened in the second half that drops this grade. Phoenix scored 13 of their 17 second chance points in the second half. That’s a large reason for their comeback, all of the extra opportunities.

We invite you to follow Thunder Digest on Twitter and like Thunder Digest on Facebook. Don't forget to subsribe on Youtube! Our Podcast is on iTunes and on Stitcher. We also have a Thunder Digest Instagram account if you love fun Thunder photography!

Related Articles

About author View all posts Author website

Chuck Chaney

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