Postgame Central: Suns vs. Thunder - Jan. 14, 2013


Jan. 14, 2013


US Airways Center

Shannon Brown

21 PTS, 3 REB, 3 AST

Kevin Durant

41 PTS, 5 REB




Number of points the Suns held every Thunder player not named Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook to on Monday.

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Oklahoma City's Duo Takes Down Suns

By: Stefan Swiat,

When the Suns faced the defending Western Conference Champion Thunder on New Year’s Eve, they hung close before being outlasted in the final period. That scenario was repeated Monday as the Suns dropped 102-90 decision to visiting Oklahoma City.

In front of a lively US Airways Center crowd that included boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr., Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dodgers All-Star Matt Kemp, the Suns gave the Thunder everything they could handle until the fourth period. However, in the final period, Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant scored 19 of his game-high 41 points to seal the Suns’ fate.

The 6-9 Durant recorded his second 40-point night in three games.

When asked what the Suns could have done to stop Durant, Suns center Marcin Gortat responded jokingly, “I am going to be silly right now, but maybe break his arm, break his leg? You can’t do anything. You can double him triple him and he is still going to score. He is just amazing.”

Up until the fourth, it was a back-and-forth affair, with shooting guard Shannon Brown pacing the Suns’ offense with a team-high 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting. In fact, the Suns only trailed by four heading into the final period.

On the night, Gortat and forward Michael Beasley each posted double-doubles, with Gortat racking up 19 points and 15 rebounds and Beasley contributing 14 and 11. Suns point guards Sebastian Telfair and Goran Dragic combined for 25 points of their own, but Durant and his sidekick, point guard Russell Westbrook, were too much.

Westbrook poured in a season-high 36 points, teaming with Durant to score all but four of the Thunder’s 51 second-half points. Altogether, the duo scored 77 of the Thunder’s 102 points, shooting a combined 54 percent from the floor.

However, the Suns did limit the rest of the No. 2-ranked offense in the league to 37-percent shooting.

“We had a four-point game and we had a good defensive possession and then we don’t secure the rebound and throw it back out and make a three-pointer,” Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said of the beginning of the fourth period. “That happened four times in the game. If you are going to play a team of this quality, you have to seize opportunity.”

The Thunder became the first 30-win club of this young NBA season and notched their fifth-straight win over Phoenix at US Airways Center. The difference in the game came in the paint, where the Suns surrendered a 48-24 advantage in that category.

Phoenix will look to remedy that when it hosts Milwaukee on Thursday.

Full Circle
Irony was on full display Monday after the Suns celebrated their 2,000th franchise win. Oklahoma City, which used to be Seattle’s franchise, was the first team the Suns ever got a win against.

In that game, future Hall of Fame guard Gail Goodrich racked up 27 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds as the Suns captured their first-ever win, a 116-107 home win on October 18, 1968. The game was played in front of 7,112 fans at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

First-Quarter Starts
After beginning the season sluggish at the outset of games, the Suns have become solid starters to games. In three of the four games on this past road trip, Phoenix ended the first quarter with the advantage.

The only game that it trailed after the first was the lone game it won; a 97-81 victory over the Bulls. The stellar starts continued Monday when Phoenix rolled to a 24-21 first-period lead over the Thunder.

Where Are They Now?
For those wondering where former Suns swingman Michael Redd ended up, the 6-6 sharpshooter is an analyst for NBA TV. He was actually working Monday night as the Suns hosted the Thunder.

Dudley Injured
Current Suns swingman Jared Dudley sat out Monday’s contest against the Thunder because a strained right wrist. Shooting guard Shannon Brown took his place in the starting lineup, leading the team in scoring.

“Russell Westbrook is one of the few guys in the league that would have no problem playing in the NFL,” Gentry said of Westbrook’s athleticism.

Any questions or comments for Stefan Swiat? Click here to send him your comments by e-mail.