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Thunder 127, Suns 96

by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 12, 2013 at 6:46 pm •  Published: February 8, 2013

Nuggets from my notebook from Friday’s win over the Suns.

  • That was the best offensive performance of the year.
  • OKC scored a season-high 127 points, shot 57.5 percent, made 14 of 21 3-pointers, dished 29 assists, had only eight turnovers, racked up 30 fast break points, led by as many as 32 points and saw all 13 active players score.
  • “Offensively, it goes without saying,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We were clicking on all cylinders.”
  • Another one from Brooks: “That was one of the few times where you can really say offensively we won the game.”
  • It’s amazing to watch how the Thunder can suddenly just turn it on. OKC was in a surprising first-half fight against the scrappy Suns. But as soon as the third period started, the Thunder got serious and ran the Suns off the court.
  • The Thunder scored a season-high 72 second half points and limited the Suns to 46 in the final 24 minutes.
  • Kevin Durant: “At halftime, coach really got on us and showed us some film of some bad plays we had. In the third quarter, guys just wanted to come out and prove to coach that we could turn it up on the defensive end and that’s what we did.”
  • The Thunder averaged 119.3 points during this three-game home stand. OKC allowed just 95 points during these last three.
  • OKC won these three by an average margin of 24.3 points.
  • More impressively, the Thunder never allowed 100 points. The team gave up an average of 95 points in this three-game stretch. Can that now carry over to the road?
  • The last time the Thunder had five players score at least 16 points was Nov. 20, 2009 against Washington.
  • Kendrick Perkins was, in many ways, the star of the show tonight. He scored 17 points with nine rebounds, three assists, three blocked shots and two steals. He made eight of nine shots in 27 minutes. Oh yeah, and he took Marcin Gortat completely out of the game. Gortat scored just two points and had only five rebounds while turning it over twice in 26 minutes.
  • That was the most Perk has scored in a Thunder uniform. His career high is 26.
  • Perk did an excellent job of just being physical with Gortat from the start, bumping him and pushing him to knock him off his spot and, perhaps, get in his head. Suns fans would call what Perk did “fouling.” But since the ref didn’t call it, play on. Perk also was terrific on the boards, on both ends, and used putbacks to ignite his offense. Then he stepped outside and started making jumpers. He was also great finishing dump off passes with dunks and short floaters. Great all-around game by the big fella.
  • Thabo Sefolosha was the second biggest surprise of the night for the Thunder offensively. He made four 3-pointers, matching his career high for 3-pointers made. He finished second on the team with 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
  • Sefolosha wasn’t gun shy in this one. He took five of the Thunder’s first eight shots.
  • For the third straight game, Durant, Perkins and Russell Westbrook weren’t needed at all in the fourth quarter. And Westbrook loves it. “I love not playing no fourth quarters,” Westbrook said. “It’s great. It’s good for my legs, good for my body. I think we’ve done a great job of taking care of business. Scotty emphasized to us that we need to play a better fourth quarter, but we haven’t played one yet.”
  • The Thunder made its first six shots and seven of its first nine.
  • Phoenix wouldn’t go away in the first half. After trailing by as many as 10, the Suns’ subs came in and completely changed the game. They outscored the Thunder 20-10 to tie it up before taking a two-point lead on two occasions late in the second period.
  • Suns coach Lindsey Hunter strangely stuck with his starters even though four out of the five stunk it up. Phoenix’s first five was no match for the Thunder’s first string, and the Thunder’s second string couldn’t really hang with the Suns’ bench. Thunder heads can thank coach Hunter for having trust in his main guys.
  • Goran Dragic (who I love as a player every bit as much as DeAndre Liggins) was fantastic early on. He scored 13 of Phoenix’s first 15 points and made six of his first seven shots. No one with the Thunder had any idea of how to stop him.
  • Dragic then had just three points in the final three quarters.
  • Through three quarters, Dragic had 16 points and the rest of the Suns’ starters had scored nine. Yikes!
  • Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley tag-teamed to lead the Suns’ second-quarter comeback. They scored 16 of their 19 first-half points in the second quarter.
  • O’Neal finished with 12 points, six boards, two blocks and an assist in 23 minutes, showing why I think he’d be a great fit behind Perk. Again, I know it’s not the sexiest move but it’s one that has the potential to have a big impact, especially in the playoffs.
  • I spoke with someone tonight who said the Thunder likely wouldn’t even need to trade Eric Maynor to get O’Neal. Phoenix, the person said, wouldn’t mind parting with O’Neal and it wouldn’t take much to pry him from the Suns.  Getting forward P.J. Tucker, though, was said to be more difficult. He’s a guy that this person said the Suns want to keep since he embodies everything they want to be about. That’s where the Thunder might have to part with a pick. But knowing that, let’s say you leave Tucker out of the equation. You can keep Maynor now. But to get O’Neal you’d have to trade the Thunder’s own first-rounder or the Bobcats’ second-rounder and Daniel Orton (solely to avoid exceeding the tax threshold). Would you do it?
  • Kevin Martin uncharacteristically launched a bunch of bad shots tonight.
  • Liggins was cleared to play and did tonight after spraining his ankle last game. All is right with the world.
  • Ralph Sampson is a player development coach for Phoenix. As the players were warming up for the second half, Sampson stood right next to the Thunder’s bench to watch the Suns shoot. Most Thunder players walked right by him to warm up on the other end. Nobody even did a double take. I wonder how many of these young guys even knew who he was. Heck, I barely even recognized him. Of course, Durant was the one player I saw that strolled over and embraced him. Figures.
  • NBA coaches get a lot of unwarranted flak for “not doing anything.” That’s a common misconception from folks who hate NBA basketball. But there was one first-half possession in which Hunter shouted instructions to Shannon Brown only to watch Brown not only not listen but do the exact opposite. Hunter wanted Brown to press up on K-Mart near halfcourt. Brown took a step toward K-Mart before backing up two steps. Hunter again shouted to get up. Brown didn’t budge. Hunter then told him to force him right. Martin then blew by him to the left and got fouled. Hunter could only shake his head.
  • Nothing really else to take away from this one. A 72-46 second half will do that.
  • Up next. At Phoenix on Sunday.

-DM-

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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