When the Oklahoma City Thunder finally decided to turn it on, the Phoenix Suns didn’t stand a chance.
By the time the Thunder did, the only question was what took so long?
A dominant second half powered the Thunder to a 127-96 win over the Suns on Friday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. OKC scored a season-high 72 second-half points and pulled away using a 36-20 third quarter. The Thunder 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.” Friday’s point total was the most the Thunder has scored all year. The previous best was 124 against Houston on Dec. 29.
Kevin Durant led five players in double figure scoring with 21 points. Thabo Sefolosha scored 18, making four of six 3-pointers. Russell Westbrook and Kendrick Perkins added 17 points each — the most Perkins has scored in a Thunder uniform — and Kevin Martin had 16 points off the bench.
The Thunder shot 57.5 percent, dished 29 assists for the second straight game and had just eight turnovers. OKC also connected on 14 of 21 3-pointers, one shy of matching a season high for makes.
“That was one of the few times where you can really say offensively we won the game,” Brooks said.
That high-octane offense became the theme of the Thunder’s 3-0 home stand. OKC averaged 119.3 points, scoring more in each subsequent game, and outscored Dallas, Golden State and Phoenix by and average of 24.3 points.
The Thunder improved to 38-12 and moved to 3-0 against a Suns team that has now lost 19 of its past 25 games. The two teams will meet for the fourth and final time Sunday in Phoenix.
For the third straight game, Westbrook, Durant and Perkins weren’t needed for a single second in the fourth quarter.
“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 found itself in a surprising first-half fight against a scrappy Suns squad that refused to play like a team that came in 16 games under .500. Oklahoma City built a 10-point lead with 3:28 remaining in the opening quarter, but the Thunder’s second unit was no match for Phoenix’s reserves.
Jermaine O’Neal and Michael Beasley combined to score 16 of their 19 first-half points in the second quarter to help the Suns tie the score at 35-all. Phoenix went on to lead by two, its largest lead of the night, on two occasions in the final three minutes of the second quarter. The Thunder then ended the half on a 9-2 run to take a 55-50 lead into halftime.
The third-quarter onslaught then happened immediately.
Phoenix was stuck on five points for the first 8 1/2 minutes of the third quarter. The Thunder’s lead grew to as many as 26 during that run. It was a stark difference from a first half in which the Thunder allowed the Suns to shoot 53.5 percent.
“They came out and made shots in the first quarter and in the first half,” Brooks said of the Suns. “Defensively, we played much better in that third quarter … We got more hands on the basketball. We were much more aggressive in our pick-and-roll coverage and we did a good job of rebounding.”
Durant, always the perfectionists, claimed the Thunder can be even better.
“We can be a lot better,” he said. “We can’t be too happy about this. We just got to keep moving on. We play these guys in 48 hours, so we got to be better.”