His energy on both ends carried the Thunder through much of the first 33 minutes. But when he took a seat with 5:27 left in the third, the momentum almost immediately shifted to the Suns. He went to the bench with the Thunder ahead by 12. He returned with his team down seven.
“We need to work on defending, being locked in for four quarters,” Westbrook said. “We had some good stretches throughout the game, good five-minute stretches, but we got to play all 48 minutes.”
After surrendering its 16-point lead, the Thunder battled back from a seven-point deficit inside the final nine minutes with the help of three 3-pointers from Westbrook. His pull-up 3 with 4:34 left to play tied the score at 116, and Durant found Serge Ibaka (18 points, five rebounds) under the basket for a dunk that gave OKC a two-point lead.
But Suns point guard Goran Dragic, quiet all second half, then got hot, converting back-to-back layups to put Phoenix back up by two with 2:02 remaining. Markieff Morris finished an alley-oop from twin brother Marcus Morris to push the margin to four with 1:11 left.
Durant hit a jumper at the other end, but Dragic stepped behind a screen and buried a free-throw line jumper to make it 124-120 with 45.3 showing. Durant knocked down another jumper, but once again the Thunder couldn’t come up with a stop. Ibaka fouled Markieff Morris, and he made a pair of free throws to push the Suns’ lead back to four with 24.4 seconds left.
Durant and Westbrook missed 3-pointers at the other end, and Marcus Morris iced the game with two more foul shots.