Durant, Thunder Blow Out Suns
By Randy Renner
After the Thunder's Saturday practice Kevin Durant told reporters sometimes losing makes you figure out some things.
When you're winning games, problems can sometimes be overlooked or excused. When you're losing everyone focuses on what's been going wrong and what needs to be fixed.
The Thunder are still working to find the all the answers but Sunday night's 124-103 blowout of the Phoenix Suns showed the Thunder have at least made progress.
For the second straight game they took better care of the basketball ending up with 15 turnovers. They forced 23 Phoenix turnovers, 14 of them coming on steals. OKC scored 30 points off those Suns givebacks.
"We did a better job of being aggressive and not letting people come at us which led to us doing what we do, getting steals and getting out in transition," said Russell Westbrook.
And the Thunder took full advantage of most every fast break, scoring 27 points on 10-for-12 shooting in transition.
Westbrook finished with 21 points and 13 assists (his fourth straight double-digit assist game) and Durant led the way with 32 points on 12-for-19 shooting. He also grabbed 11 rebounds, dished four assists and even stole the ball three times.
After a rough patch early in the game when the Thunder bench allowed a 15 point lead to melt away, that group came up with a strong effort in the second half led by Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters.
Kanter finished with 21 points on 9-for-10 shooting and coach Billy Donovan called his defense on second half pick-and-roll plays "exceptional." He also had seven rebounds. Waiters added 19 on 6-for-9 shooting (2-for-3 on threes). It's the first time in Thunder history two bench players have scored at least 19 points.
"The one thing that you want from your bench is to hold serve, play well and play with each other," Donovan said. "That stretch (early in the game) wasn't a good stretch but I give those guys credit because when they got back in there they played at a much higher level."
One guy that never got in there was sharpshooter Anthony Morrow. Donovan said he told Morrow before the game that might happen. Donovan said he's been wanting to give Kyle Singler, Dion Waiters and DJ Augustin more minutes in order to try to work into things a little more since arriving via trades late last season.
Donovan also again brought up defensive matchups as a reason why Singler is gobbling up minutes that might otherwise go to Morrow. The Suns very active guards who are quicker than many and can really fill up the stat sheet. Donovan said he felt the length of Singler and also Andre Roberson would help to limit the effectiveness of those players.
Nick Collison also didn't play Sunday night and Donovan said the reasons were much the same, though he also wanted to be sure to give Mitch McGary some playing time after he hasn't been able to play after suffering a concussion.
The Thunder will practice Monday before flying to Washington, DC for Tuesday night's game with the Wizards.
You can check out what Donovan, Durant, Westbrook and Kanter had to say in the postgame lockerroom on the video page here on the website.