Thunder lets win get away

BY DARNELL MAYBERRY, Staff Writer, dmayberry@opuco.com Modified: February 24, 2010 at 4:05 am •  Published: February 24, 2010

The streak would still be alive and the good times still rolling for the Thunder had it not been for a pair of poor decisions inside the final 64 seconds Tuesday night.

Together, they capped a costly fourth-quarter collapse and crushed the Thunder’s spirits and its comeback effort in a 104-102 loss to Phoenix before a sellout crowd of 18,203 inside the Ford Center. And when it was over, all the Thunder could do was watch the short-handed Suns smile and celebrate on its court with high-flying chest bumps after snapping the home team’s season-high, nine-game winning streak.

"We had a nice run going, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks, whose team fell to 33-22. "We stubbed our toe tonight.”

When we look back on the source of the pain, we’ll remember the pair of plays by Jeff Green and James Harden on one sequence and Thabo Sefolosha on another. Let’s start with Green and Harden.

With 1:05 left to play and the Thunder clinging to a tenuous five-point lead, Green chased down a loose ball and saved it from going out near his bench. But his behind-the-back, no-look heave flew toward the Suns’ basket, where Phoenix forward Amar’e Stoudemire sat camping. Stoudemire took one dribble and powered in a layup through a foul by Harden. Stoudemire sank the free throw to complete a 3-point play to pull the Suns within 102-100.

"Jeff got caught in the moment,” Brooks said. "That’s not the play that you would normally want, but I can’t fault that. That’s a great effort and energy play, and he was hustling.”

After Jason Richardson buried two free throws to tie it at 102-all with 40.2 seconds remaining, Russell Westbrook missed a go-ahead 3-pointer at the other end, and Green blew a bunny on a putback attempt. Suns forward Grant Hill rebounded the miss with 13.4 seconds remaining and set up the Suns’ game-winner. Box score from Tuesday's game


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