Notebook: Thunder 114, Suns 96



Posted Dec 31, 2012 11:30 PM

By Randy Renner, For NBA.com

THE FACTS: Another happy new year in Oklahoma City as the Thunder (24-6) improved to 5-0 in New Year's Eve games by beating the Phoenix Suns 114-96 Monday night. Kevin Durant led all scorers with 30 points, his Thunder running mate Russell Westbrook added 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

The Suns (11-21) were led by Luis Scola who was a constant thorn for the Thunder. He finished with 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting and kept the Suns in the game for most of the night. Goran Dragic added 16 points and eight assists and Marcin Gortat dropped in 12, while pulling down 10 rebounds.

The Thunder had five players in double figures and are now 13-0 when that happens. Serge Ibaka had 16 points, seven rebounds and a couple of blocks, Thabo Sefolosha added 14 points and Nick Collison just missed his second straight double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Oklahoma City turned the ball over just five times and that's the fewest in the OKC era of the franchise, and ties for the fewest turnovers in franchise history.

QUOTABLE: "That's a good team win, just five turnovers, a lot of guys did a lot of good things tonight and the defense really turned it up in the fourth quarter. We locked in and did what we needed to do."

--Thunder coach Scott Brooks

THE STAT: After allowing Phoenix to shoot 50 percent through the first three quarters, the Thunder held the Suns to just 18 points on 38.9 percent shooting overall and 16.7 percent (1-for-6) on 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

QUOTABLE II: "I thought we played well up until the last five minutes of the game. I thought we played hard and competed like crazy, but we came out in the second half a little bit flat."

--Suns coach Alvin Gentry

TURNING POINT: The Thunder kept the Suns pretty much at arm's length all night but a steal by Westbrook with just under five minutes left in the game sealed the Suns fate. Westbrook streaked down court and dished to Ibaka for a slam that put the Thunder ahead by double digits and the Suns couldn't recover. Phoenix could score only two points from 5:41 left in the fourth quarter to 1:42. By then a seven point game had become a 17 point contest.

QUOTABLE III: "I thought [Westbrook's] steal was one of the best of the night. I don't know how he got there to get it, then he had an open layup opportunity but gave it up to Serge for the slam."

-- Scott Brooks

HOT: The Suns opened the game shooting 57.9 percent (11-for-19) in the first quarter...Phoenix was 4-for-4 (nine points) on 2nd chance points in the first half...Durant was 3-for-5 (10 points) in the fourth quarter.

NOT: Durant was 4-for-11 in the first half...Westbrook was 2-for-7 in the first 24 minutes...Kevin Martin finished 2-for-12 (1-for-6 on 3-pointers).

INSIDE THE ARENA: The 85th-straight sellout inside Chesapeake Energy Arena featured many fans in fancy New Year's Eve attire. Despite damp, chilly weather a crowd of about 75-thousand was expected to ring in the New Year during downtown Oklahoma City's "Opening Night" party about a block from the arena.

GOOD MOVE: Gentry started P.J. Tucker instead of Shannon Brown for the Suns mainly for defense again Durant. In the first quarter Tucker played the Thunder star aggressively limiting him to just four points on 2-for-8 shooting.

NOTABLE: Westbrook left the game late in the first half after taking an accidental elbow to the face from Scola. Both players were going for a rebound and Westbrook crashed to the floor, his face bleeding. Westbrook did not start the second half but he returned later in the third quarter after getting stitches...The Suns have now lost nine straight road games tying the club's longest losing streak since the 1987-88 season...Oklahoma City has now won 12 straight home games.

UP NEXT: For the Suns, Wednesday vs. Philadelphia, Friday vs. Utah, Sunday vs. Memphis. For the Thunder, Wednesday vs. Brooklyn, Friday vs. Philadelphia, Sunday @ Toronto.