That was quite a range of previous results for the Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder in Sunday night’s game.
The Suns came out with 5-2 records in their most challenging period of seven games of the season. The Thunder gained 57 points the night before, making 16 losses in their last 17 games with their list of tanks.
In a way, it almost made him feel like a game that would be hard for Suns to face. Now some will call about it and say that everything is connected with the same mentality every night. But that’s easier said than done, and Suns fans should know that from previous years, when great teams would enter Phoenix with some sluggishness in their game.
After the Suns had this lack of energy for the first 18 minutes or so, they did enough to keep the Thunder comfortable enough in the second half before almost falling apart in a 123-120 victory.
While the Suns managed to do so mostly in wins rather than losses, this was another example of a team playing at the level of its opposition.
Star guard Devin Booker mentioned that this is not an instigated game.
“It was the story of the season for us: Playing our race and playing our race, and that’s not what great teams do,” he said. “Great teams get better every night, regardless of the opponent. We talked about it and emphasized it enough during the season that we were working on ourselves and we didn’t do it tonight. Fortunately, this happened in a win and we will respond better in our next game against Cleveland. “
Phoenix was six in the first quarter, which lacked something like intensity. After Thunder’s three-pointer from Suns’ turn increased OKC by 3:32 after 7:32 in the second quarter, Suns had little response in defense and that was all they had to do with seven at halftime.
A little more good defense and Booker’s boost increased the lead to 13 to three-quarters, and they didn’t seem to allow Oklahoma City to get close enough.
However, the Thunder reduced the Suns’ 18-point lead in the fourth quarter to 10 with 2:27 left, followed by a close breakup.
After Booker’s book shot fell, OKC continued 7-0 in less than a minute. Booker then received a technical foul to allow thunder within four. A successful game by Thunder had Isaiah Roby’s center wide open for 3 and he missed, but Paul then traveled to the back to return the ball to OKC in the remaining 23 seconds.
In this possession, Thunder guard Luguenz Dort committed a foul, which was challenged by head coach Monty Williams and was canceled. The Suns won a jump from that and then the game.
It was a completely unnecessary outburst of plays, which led to flashbacks in late March, when it felt like a torturous exercise for Suns to close the game.
“I’m just playing with the game,” Booker said of what went wrong in the final section. “Lack of focus, revs, giving up transition buckets – to give up lead so late, it has to be more than one thing, so I’d say it’s all I just mentioned.”
“We know we can be much better, especially in the final moments,” said Williams.
Booker finished with 32 points and was 9-of-10 on the line, playing aggressive basketball down as a goal scorer all night.
Tori Craig got his fourth straight start in place of the injured Jae Crowder and has his most productive night so far with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Michal Bridges added 17 points and Chris Paul had a double-double of 18 points and 11 assists.
Cameron Payne missed the game due to a left knee injury, and Williams had a choice whether to bring E’Twaun Moore back to the rotation after nearly three months out, or to stun Paul and Booker. He chose the latter, with Jevon Carter being the first guard on the bench and making more dribbles than usual this season.
Carter is not a playmaker, but he is very familiar with Williams’ system, and Booker committed much of the offense when Paul was also seated. There is also the fact that the playoffs start in a few weeks, so keeping the same boys who will play then is logical.
Carter rewarded the faith with six points, four rebounds, three assists and four steals.
This is not the kind of victory from which the Suns will gain momentum. They did what they had to do to win, but not in a positive way, as it was about creating the right habits before the game after the season.
“We just collapsed from our area,” Craig said.
“Everyone knows in the playoffs that this can’t happen because it will cost you a game, it will cost you a series,” he added.