As good as Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant can be, and they were against the Phoenix Suns, there will be some nights that these individual efforts without going in a different way won’t be enough, resulting in a 128-122 loss during an excellent game, with Gerald Green starring on the other end.
Green finished with 41 points, joined by 24 points from Markieff Morris (on a great night for the twins) and 22 more from Dragic as the Suns went berserk from beyond the arc (mostly through Green’s 8-of-13 on 3-pointers). The Thunder had Westbrook and Durant combine for 70 points, but once again the duo had a rough time converting and finding good shots in the final moments of a tight game, blowing a two point lead with 2:43 to go, going 2-of-7 from the field (both by Durant) in that span.
For the Suns this was huge win as it seemed like they were losing a grip on the 8th spot in the West. It was also a demonstration of just how good they can be in both transition offense and the half court. The Thunder are known mostly for their dynamic scoring duo, but it seems that the most important thing they need to take care of with the playoffs and championship on their minds is going to be the defense, which has seen too many highs & lows since the Kendrick Perkins injury, struggling to defend the perimeter.
And 3-point shooting, eventually, the ones that the Suns made and the Thunder didn’t, determined the game. Durant and Westbrook both shot over 50% from the field and got a good night from Caron Butler (14 points, 4-of-8 from three) coming off the bench. Serge Ibaka had another efficient shooting night scoring 18 points. However, the final minutes were a case of two players trying to do too much on their own instead of moving the ball bit better and trying to surprise the Suns defense.
The Morris twins played a huge part, adding 39 points and 9 rebounds off the bench combined. The Suns were at their best when they were on the floor, but above all was Green’s sensational shooting performance, which isn’t occurring for the first time this season.
A year of transformation for the former dunk champion, who has taken his opportunity in the spotlight instead of Eric Bledsoe with wide open arms, and hasn’t disappointed despite the low expectations, showing a completely different aspect of his game no one actually knew existed.
The Suns remain one of the more enjoyable teams to watch in the league. It doesn’t come with too much defense, but it’s working well enough to probably put them in the playoffs, even if Green doesn’t have shooting performances like this one each night.
The Thunder won’t lower their head for too long. They can’t afford to, as the Spurs are breathing down their necks in the race for the top spot in the West. Even on effective nights for Durant and Westbrook, too many times the offense in the final minutes turns into the wrong mode, which is about making or not making the shot, sometimes leaving a lot up to chance. A team that isn’t thinking about the title for the first time should have more than that in their arsenal, because talent alone isn’t going to get them where they want to end up.