During his team's morning shoot-around in preparation for Friday night's home game against Phoenix, Thunder coach Scott Brooks had a warning for his players.
“Guys, we have four more games before the break,” Brooks said he told his troops. “Let's not worry about the other three. Just focus on tonight's game.”
OKC (38-12) posted a convincing 127-96 victory over the Suns before a sellout crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“When some teams get closer to the All-Star break, they tend to relax,” said Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who had 17 points, six assists, five rebounds, two steals and one block in 25 minutes. “We just want to pick it up.”
OKC should have no trouble looking ahead to All-Star break given what awaits — two road games and then the world champion Miami Heat at The Peake next Thursday before having a five-day break.
“That is the fear around the league,” Brooks said of teams looking ahead to the respite. “No question it's a well-deserved break for all players and coaches and organizations, but you can't look ahead. If you do, you stub your toe. It's hard enough to win in this league, but if you're not focused on the game, it's impossible to win. We haven't had that problem and hopefully it doesn't happen.”
Phoenix (17-34) starters combined for just 30 points while the Suns bench scored 66 and was led by Michael Beasley with 25 points (10 for 16 from the field; 3 for 4 on 3-pointers) and seven rebounds in 29 minutes.
Meanwhile, all 13 players scored for OKC. Thunder starters scored 82 points and shot 58.5 percent (31 for 53) from the field while the OKC bench scored 45 points and shot 55.9 percent (19 for 34) from the floor.
The Thunder also shot 66.7 percent (14 for 21) from 3-point range.
The teams meet again Sunday at 7 p.m. in Phoenix.
Westbrook and former teammate James Harden will reunite while representing the Western Conference in the Shooting Stars competition next Saturday night at the Toyota Center in Houston.