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Russell Westbrook didn’t play but for the Oklahoma City Thunder, he wasn’t exactly needed on Saturday night. Westbrook missed the game due to personal reasons and the Thunder took care of business as their loyal leader missed his sixth straight game. The Thunder beat the Suns 110-100.

The Thunder improved to 10-5 on the season and now have won 10 of their last 11 games. The’ve moved into a tie for second place in the Western Conference. They’re also the hottest team in the NBA right now.

Oklahoma City is now 3-0 against the Suns this season, with a fourth game coming on Dec. 28.

Paul George scored 32 points, hitting 11-of-11 at the free throw line, pulling down 11 rebounds, three blocks and three steals. He was every bit of a super star as the Thunder needed.

Steven Adams was a nice counter punch for the Thunder. The Kiwi finished with 26 points, one below his career high, and 10 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season.

Once again, it was the third quarter which proved dominate for the Thunder. Oklahoma City used a 10-2 run to push what was already a 10-point advantage out to their largest at 18.

Though, Oklahoma City really controlled the game throughout. They trailed briefly in the first quarter but managed to go on a 9-1 run to take a 26-19 lead with 1:27 left in the quarter.

Phoenix would take a small lead early in the second quarter, but the Thunder would push it out ot a comfortable 47-42 lead at the break.

That’s when the fireworks starts. Jerami Grant opened the quarter on a nice lay up. Adams hit the alley-oop from Dennis Schröder and the Thunder were off and running. Oklahoma City pushed it out to a 12-point advantage seconds later off. a Paul George three that forced the Suns into a timeout with the Thunder leading 58-46 with 8:56 left in the third.

The Thunder dominated the rebounds, limiting the Suns second chance opportunities and that’s the real difference tonight. Oklahoma City outscored the Suns 15-9 on second chance points. They limited the Suns to only four offensive rebounds.

Oklahoma City also did a really excellent job at getting to the free throw line. The Thunder shot 32 attempts, nailing 84.4 percent of them. It’s one of the best percentages Oklahoma City has shot with at least 30 attempts since Nov. 15, 2017 when the Thunder made 32-of-37 against the Bulls.

Hamidou Diallo made his first start of his career. He finished 0-of-1 from the field with four rebounds and was largely unnoticed. It happens for rookies. He played his role and didn’t hurt the Thunder.

Oklahoma City will now head to the west coast for a mini-road trip as they’ll play the Kings on Monday night and the Warriors on Wednesday night.

Keys to the Game

Force Turnovers: C

Oklahoma City only forced 14 turnovers. They scored 10 points off the turnovers and weren’t their normal overly aggressive self. They safe and sound. It worked, especially against a team like the Suns. You can get away with that.

Slow down Booker: A+

Devin Booker, who usually plays exceptional struggled all night long. The Thunder defense held the star to 5-of-16 shooting, including 3-of-8 from deep. You can’t really slow him down as he had 12 assists. The Thunder made him earn his keep in other ways.

Keep the pressure on: A

The Suns got close late but the Thunder once again found a way to put this game out of reach. Oklahoma City is getting a lot better at this thing where they close games strong. Only if we could have the Boston game back…

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Chuck Chaney

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