Thunder sixth man Kevin Martin missed Sunday's game with flu-like symptoms. It was only his second game out of the lineup this season.
Martin, who ranks third on the team in scoring with 15.3 points per game, also missed a Dec. 20 game at Minnesota with a right thigh contusion. The Thunder lost that game and saw its second unit struggle without its anchor. But even in a blowout win Sunday, the Thunder's bench scoring took a severe hit, much like that Minnesota contest.
Through three quarters against Phoenix, the Thunder's reserves had scored just three points.
Martin accompanied the team on the road trip but did not attend the game. A team spokesman said Martin remained at the team hotel because of his illness.
SEFOLOSHA SCORES SEASON HIGH
Thabo Sefolosha scored a season-high 20 points against the Suns and made a career-high five 3-pointers in 34 minutes.
Sefolosha made seven of 11 shots and added three rebounds and three assists.
It was the second straight game that Sefolosha has scored at least 18 points, the first time in his career that he has done so.
“Guys stepped up. That's what makes us a good team,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “His defensive effort and his offense was at a high level on both ends of the floor. He was making shots and making their guards have difficult shots.”
TWO STRAIGHT AGAINST SUNS OFFERS “PLAYOFF-LIKE TEST”
The Thunder swept the four-game series with the Suns, winning by an average of 22.3 points.
Though the Thunder eventually cruised to a 97-69 win in Sunday's game, playing Phoenix twice in three days was said to be a tough challenge.
“It's a mental focus game,” said Kendrick Perkins. “It's hard playing a team back-to-back. It's almost a playoff test. They kind of know you and you know them, so you just got to make sure you come out with the right mind-set and mental focus and just execute the game plan.”
The Thunder led by as many as 35 points and never trailed against the Suns.
JACKSON STILL HAS THE BACKUP JOB
Sunday's game against the Suns was Reggie Jackson's 26th straight contest as the primary backup point guard after taking over the job from Eric Maynor on Dec. 20.
If anyone was searching for hints as to what Brooks might have in mind with that spot going forward, Sunday's game perhaps shed a sliver of light onto the coach's thinking.
Maynor manned the backup job for the first 25 games. Since Brooks prides himself on being fair with his players, the possibility that Jackson might have been on the same 25-game trial is not out of the question. But with Jackson still going strong in his 26th game, it could mean the competition for the permanent job has been decided for now.
Thunder guard Jeremy Lamb was inactive Sunday while he continues to recover from a low back strain. … Perkins, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant sat out for the entire fourth quarter for the fourth straight game. … Perkins and Goran Dragic were called for a double technical foul with 1.3 seconds remaining in the second quarter. … The Thunder is now 16-9 on the road. … The Suns turned the ball over 23 times, one shy of tying an opponent high for the Thunder. OKC scored 25 points off those turnovers.
By Darnell Mayberry