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Thunder 102, Suns 90

John Rohde Modified: April 12, 2013 at 6:45 pm •  Published: January 15, 2013

Leftover observations from the Thunder’s 102-90 victory Monday night over the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center, where OKC has now won five straight:

  • Kevin Durant (41) and Russell Westbrook (36) combined for 77 points against the Suns. The last NBA tandem to combine for 77 or more points in a game? Um, that would be the same two players with Durant (43) and Westbrook (35) combining for 78 against in a 115-110 victory at Minnesota on April 14, 2012.
  • With 2:23 left in Monday’s game, Durant blew past Phoenix forward Michael Beasley at the top of the key. Suns center Marcin Gortat stepped in to help out defensively and appeared ready to take a charge until a high-flying Durant threw down a tomahawk dunk, fell to the floor and was fouled on the play.
  • Durant’s dunk resulted in this all-world quote from Poland’s Gortat: “Well first of all, I was looking for my car keys under the basket. I was trying to find my car keys because I lost them over there so I was just looking for them. And Michael Beasley is going to get Krispy-Kreme for the rest of the season for sure, from me. I mean it happens. The funny thing is that when (Kendrick) Perkins was standing under the basket he looked at me and I looked at him and he said, ‘I know how it feels.’ He said, ‘Guards left you on the island huh?’ and I said, ‘Yeah.’ Listen, it happens. I am not going to deny that was probably the top three dunks of the year. Right? I mean at least I am going to be out there. I mean, I am just going to try to be silly about it. I am not going to cry. It is just part of the game.”
  • Gortat had another great quote about Durant and Westbrook, which you can read here.
  • It seemed like half the Phoenix fans who remained in the building rose to their feet and applauded Durant’s dunk. What does it feel like to have even opposing fans react in such a manner? “It feels really good, just for them to recognize an opposing team’s good play. People are just fans of the game, and that’s good to see. I’ve seen a lot of Thunder fans out there as well, so that’s encouraging, too."
  • As is always the case when it comes to injuries, OKC officially lists forward Serge Ibaka as "day-to-day" after missing the last two starts with a chest contusion. Ibaka's mood remains upbeat, however.
  • Kevin Martin had 12 points off the bench, all coming in the first half. After Martin missed a shot, a Suns fan screamed, “You’re sure no James Harden.” Harden attended Arizona State in neighboring Tempe and Suns had a strong interest in obtaining Harden. Seconds later, the same fan took a pot-shot at a Suns player.
  • OKC had just 11 turnovers and it cost them just 10 points. Phoenix had 15 turnovers, which the Thunder turned into 23 points.
  • The Suns had 22 second-chance points to OKC’s 16. Phoenix had 14 offensive rebounds to the Thunder’s nine.
  • Phoenix shot horribly, even when unguarded – 41.7 percent on field goals, 36.0 percent from 3-point range and 61.1 percent from the free-throw line. The Suns (13-27) have now lost 13 of their last 15.
  • OKC inexplicably shot just 73.6 percent from the line this road trip, yet still managed to go 3-0. The Thunder still handily leads the league in free-throw percentage, but has dipped below 84.0 percent. The NBA season record is 83.2 by the 1989-90 Boston Celtics.
  • Westbrook’s 36 points and 14 field goals were both season highs. Perkins had a season-high 13 rebounds and talks about it here.
  • Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. apparently is a Thunder fan. He was at last Friday night’s game at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers, and was in attendance Monday for OKC’s game at Phoenix at US Airways Center. Also on hand was Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
  • Speaking of Abdul-Jabbar, be sure to read The Oklahoman on Wednesday to see what he said about Durant potentially becoming the NBA’s all-time scorer.
  • Durant was named Western Conference player of the week after averaging a league-best 32.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.5 assists. He now has four 40-point games this season.
  • This was the Thunder’s eighth back-to-back of the season and it has 15 total. OKC has a 6-2 record on the first night and (5-2) on the second.
  • Brooks on Durant’s ability to average 35-plus points per game, if he wanted to: “I was a 28.2 scorer in high school and a 23.6 scorer my senior year in college (UC Irvine) – and the .2 and .6 are important … because in the NBA it was only a .6 that I scored. It was hard to get five (points).”
  • On Sunday night in Portland, Westbrook hit just 5 of 21 shots. One night later, he hit seven of his first 11 and finished 14 for 24. Durant smiled when asked about Westbrook’s quick start. “It’s a sight to see,” Durant said. “I mean, even when his shots aren’t falling, he still does some tremendous things for us. You know, getting steals, grabbing rebounds, making great passes. So, his shooting is nice but it’s only part of his game. Tonight he got it going – asserted himself in the pick and roll, hitting that jump shot, getting to the rim, so he made some spectacular plays and kind of carried us there early on. In the fourth quarter he just told me to go out there and be aggressive and that’s what I tried to do.”
  • Westbrook on his team’s unbeaten road trip, which ups the Thunder’s road record to 12-5 (.706) on the season: “It’s huge man. We did a good job of taking care of the road – for now. I think we did a great job defensively and it helped us in the win.”
  • Wednesday’s 7 p.m. game between the Thunder and Denver Nuggets (23-16) at Chesapeake Energy Arena will match the two hottest teams in the Western Conference. OKC has won four straight. Denver takes a five-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s home game against Portland, which means the Nuggets will be on the back end of a back-to-back when they visit The Peake. The two teams meet again Sunday night at Denver.
  • Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry on the Thunder: “They are a great team. There is a reason that they were in the NBA Finals last year. I thought that they played great and that was without Ibaka. … I thought we fought like crazy, but you have to play almost a perfect game to beat this team. It doesn’t matter where you play them. They are one of the best road teams in the game so you just have to make sure you are making those plays.”
  • Up next: Beat writer Darnell Mayberry returns to this space when the Thunder hosts Denver at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
- John Rohde

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