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Thunder 107, Suns 97

by Darnell Mayberry Published: December 31, 2011

Nuggets from my notebook from Saturday’s 107-97 win over Phoenix

  • Serge Ibaka looks to be picking it up. His last two games have been filled with energy and effort. He had eight points on 4-of-4 shooting tonight and swatted two shots. He didn’t get major minutes because of the Suns’ lack of size. But Ibaka looks to be putting it together.
  • The Thunder went up 17-5 in the first quarter and, really, never looked back. Great starts like the Thunder had tonight seem rare.
  • Russell Westbrook was good tonight. He finished with one of his best games of the season, scoring 18 points on 8-for-14 shooting with  four assists and a season-low two turnovers. He was attacking the rim aggressively early and was back to his normal self putting pressure on the defense and being a pest in the passing lanes.
  • After one quarter, seven Thunder players had scored 11 baskets. That became the theme of the night. OKC racked up 25 assists and shot 53.2 percent largely because of its unselfishness.
  • The bench is great again. And it never gets old seeing how successful the second unit is. They went on a 27-12 run in the second quarter to turn a five-point lead at the start of the period into a 19-point advantage. During that spurt, four players scored and eight of the 10 made shots were assisted.
  • Daequan Cook was key to the surge, scoring 12 points, all on 3s. He later left the game feeling ill. He was said to have flu-like symptoms.
  • Don’t underestimate the game James Harden had tonight. He made only one of six shots but still flirted with a triple double with 10 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Harden had five of the eight assists during that second quarter 27-12 run.
  • Not sure why Scott Brooks took out the B team in the last four minutes of the second quarter. Eric Maynor wasn’t either. As Westbrook replaced him, Maynor walked toward the bench and asked “Why?” That’s the same thing I want to know. The bench built the lead, and the starters almost gave it back. The Suns got within 14 at the half.
  • I feel bad for Steve Nash. The guy is too good to have to finish his career on a team like this.
  • Nash seems to know it. He almost looked like he was going through the motions out there. We’ve seen him play with much more passion than he did tonight.
  • Turnovers continue to be a problem. The Thunder had 21 tonight, leading to 21 Suns points.
  • Thanks to the blowout, Lazar Hayward and Reggie Jackson made their Thunder debuts tonight. Both scored, Jackson on a driving layup late in the game.
  • After the game, Kendrick Perkins explained to me why he’s shut down his Twitter account, terminating perhaps the best account in the site’s history. “I don’t know how to shut my mouth,” he said. When I asked if he’ll come back soon he said, “I been anxious to get back on. But I don’t think Sam Presti wants that.”
  • Thabo Sefolosha was shooting with confidence tonight. He made two of his three 3-point attempts and looked comfortable doing so.
  • Cole Aldrich caught an alley-oop from Maynor. Didn’t expect to see that.
  • Kevin Durant’s streak of 30-point games came to an end tonight at four. He scored just 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting. More than anything, that illustrates how great a team win this was. Durant never got rolling and really never needed to.
  • What is it about sequin shirts on New Year’s Eve? I saw enough tonight for all of 2012.
  • The Thunder held the Suns to five fast break points. This isn’t the same run and gun Suns. But that’s still impressive so long as Steve Nash is at the helm.
  • Not much more to say after this one. That’s five in a row now for the Thunder. And unlike last year, it really doesn’t feel like much of an achievement. I guess that’s the effect of expectations.
  • Up next: At Dallas on Monday.
  • Happy New Year, Thunder heads.

-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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