Thunder Burned By Hot Desert Suns
The Thunder led the Phoenix Suns 96-80 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were having monster games and everything seemed to be under control
So, as we've seen happen a few other times this season, the defense decided to make an early exit and the Thunder offense checked out for a while too. Meanwhile, the Suns offense got as hot as the surface of, well, the sun.
Phoenix promptly went on a 23-2 run, ignited by Gerald Green. Green had 25 points in the third quarter and hit three, after three, after three adding up to a career high 41 points and leading the Suns to a 128-122 win.
The Thunder were helpless to stop him or even slow him down without their best perimeter defender Thabo Sefolosha.
Sefolosha didn't even make the trip as he tries to heal from a left calf strain. Sefolosha usually guards the opponent's best perimeter player or someone who gets hot.
He would have been perfect to douse Green's fire, but without him The Thunder couldn't find anyone who could get the job done.
The 128 points are the most the Thunder have given up in a game this season and it's the first time in Thunder history they've lost a regular season game when scoring 122 points.
Durant and Westbrook had monster games. Russ almost had another triple-double with 36 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Durant had 34 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
But the only other starter to get to double figures was Serge Ibaka who had 18. Steven Adams and Perry Jones combined to score as many points as a dead man.
Jones was in foul trouble all night and Adams never took a shot.
Offense really wasn't the problem though it disappeared during that 23-2 run. The problem was the Thunder allowing the Suns to shoot 52.5 percent overall and even better from beyond the arc (55.6 percent).
Phoenix also got to the free throw line 20 more times than OKC did and in a close game, that's often the deciding factor.
The Thunder defense has been sketchy for a while now, though it has also shown signs of the fangs it used to have.
Until Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins, the Thunder's two best defenders, return to the lineup inconsistency is going to be out there on the floor.
Many times the Thunder can score enough points to overcome that, last night just wasn't one of those times.