Until the find the key, though, great long-distance shooting is
great to have as a backup.
Forward Kevin Durant scored 32 points and hit his last six shots
from field as the Thunder used a 15-0 run spanning the third and
fourth quarters to begin to pull away for a 122-106 victory over the
Phoenix Suns on Monday.
Durant was in the midst of a 5-for-15 shooting night and the Thunder
were down 81-76 to the struggling Suns in the third quarter when he
hit a 3-pointer to get himself and his team going. He had eight
points in the final 2:17 of the period, and Oklahoma City finished
out the quarter with nine consecutive points.
Durant closed out the 15-0 run with a three-point play 1:06 into the
fourth quarter to put the Thunder up 95-85.
"Like I've been saying, it only takes one shot for me. Sometimes it
doesn't even take a shot," said Durant, who made five of eight
3-point attempts. "I'm just always in the mode where I feel
confident every shot I put up.
"I got whatever I wanted tonight. I missed some early in the third,
but I got it going and my confidence is always sky high, especially
threes. When you make threes, I think that gets you going a little
The Thunder hit 15 3-pointers (on 33 attempts) and outscored the
Suns 45-3 from behind the arc. The long-distance accuracy made up
for a lackluster first three quarters two nights after an emotional
road loss to the Golden State Warriors.
Guard Russell Westbrook added 29 for the Thunder, who gave back a
12-point, first-quarter lead and allowed the Suns to score on 15
straight possessions in the second quarter to turn the game into a
"If we want to be elite, we have to do better job on defense," said
Westbrook, who added eight points and eight assists. "We just have
to lock in and do it. We can't come in the game and figure we're
going to outscore everybody and play no defense. We have to defend."
Phoenix pulled within three points one more time in the fourth
quarter on a put-back by forward P.J. Tucker with 5:43 left.
Westbrook and Durant each hit two free throws before Oklahoma City
guard Dion Waiters capped another 7-1 run with a 3-pointer to make
it 106-97 with 4:42 left. The Thunder ended the game on a 23-10 run.
Waiters finished with 15 points for Oklahoma City, which won for the
sixth time in seven games and the 13th time in 15. The Thunder
(39-14) also got 32 points and six 3-pointers from the bench.
[to top of second column]
"Thank God we made some threes," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said.
"In the second quarter, we gave up 38 points, we fouled way too much
and we let them get in the paint.
"As the third quarter went on, our defense got better. There's
moments where we're really good, but we've got to get to a more
consistent level for 48 minutes."
Forward Markieff Morris scored 23 points and guard Archie Goodwin
had 20 for the Suns, who lost their eighth consecutive game. Forward
Mirza Teletovic had 14 of his 17 points in the second quarter for
Tucker added 16 points for the Suns, who were 1-for-11 on
"We always play them tough," Tucker said. "It's tough. They've got
Durant and Westbrook and they're rolling. They're already tough
enough, but when their role players are making threes and finishing,
it's 10 times harder."
Since Dec. 18, the Suns have lost 23 of 25 games.
"We're growing, we're getting better, we're not discouraged and we
won't be discouraged," Suns interim coach Earl Watson said.
NOTES: Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan did not believe his team
would have problems bouncing back from the 116-108 loss against the
Golden State Warriors on Saturday: "I understand there was a lot of
hype around the game ... but for us, I think our guys looked at it
as just one game. We have a lot of veteran guys in that locker room
that understand the length of time of the season, and you can learn
and grow a lot from one game." ... Suns interim coach Earl Watson
was drafted by the Oklahoma City franchise when the team was still
the Seattle SuperSonics, and he spent two seasons as a teammate of
Kevin Durant and one with Russell Westbrook. ... Suns G Devin Booker
came into the game with at least 15 points in six consecutive games,
tied with Michael Finley (1995-96) for the longest such streak by a
Suns rookie since Richard Dumas went eight games in a row in
1992-93. Booker's run ended when he finished with six points Monday.
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