OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Phoenix Suns had already seen a two-man scoring show starring Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
The rematch was a showcase for the Oklahoma City Thunder’s ensemble cast.
Durant scored 21 points, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins both had their biggest-scoring outbursts of the season and the Thunder rode a gigantic third-quarter run to a 127-96 victory over the Suns on Friday night.
All five Thunder starters scored during a 21-0 run that put Oklahoma City in position to complete a perfect homestand with a third straight blowout. The margin of victory in the three games was a combined 73 points and coach Scott Brooks didn’t even play three starters — Durant, Westbrook and Perkins — a single minute in the fourth quarter during the homestand.
“I think we’ve done a great job of taking care of business. Scotty emphasizes and tells us that we need to play a better fourth quarter, but we haven’t played one yet,” Westbrook said. “So maybe he’ll change his mind on that one.”
The game had a completely different feel from the last meeting in Phoenix last month, when Durant and Westbrook combined for 47 of Oklahoma City’s 51 points in the second half. This time, everyone chipped in for a dominant second-half performance.
Westbrook had a right-handed slam during the run before finishing it off with a banked-in runner to stretch the lead to 81-55 with 3:25 to go in the third quarter. Serge Ibaka and Sefolosha each hit 3-pointers, Perkins had a jumper and a dunk, and Durant’s only contributions were three free throws.
Phoenix even came out of a timeout with six players on the floor at one point during the stretch, but all that did was result in another point after Durant made the resulting technical foul.
“It’s a matter of pick your poison with them. They have a lot of guys that aren’t in the headlines but they do a lot for their team,” interim Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said. “Sefolosha is one of them. He’s a guy that doesn’t get the press but he knocks down shots, defends really well and they’ve got a bunch of guys that are co-stars that do a great job.”
Michael Beasley led the Suns with 25 points and Goran Dragic had 16 of his 19 points in the first quarter.
Sefolosha scored 18 points and Perkins had 17 for his highest total since being traded to Oklahoma City by Boston in February 2011. Westbrook scored 17 and Kevin Martin chipped in 16 points.
“It’s great guys have confidence,” Westbrook said. “That’s what we need: everybody to be confident.”
The Northwest Division leaders had gone 4-4 in the stretch leading up to the homestand and head back on the road for two straight feeling better — but only after a halftime speech from Brooks.
Perkins said Brooks had a rare halftime film session that led to the third-quarter defensive intensity, with the Suns going more than 6 minutes without scoring.
“We came in here and he got on us about our effort on the defensive end and told us it’s not a pickup game, that we’ve got to go out here and defend, and that’s what we went out there and did,” Perkins said.
Perkins made eight of his nine shots and collected his most points since scoring 20 against Miami on Jan. 6, 2010. He also neutralized Phoenix center Marcin Gortat, who didn’t attempt a shot until the fourth quarter.
“That’s the Perk that we need,” Sefolosha said. “Defensively, he’s doing a great job and offensively, he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Oklahoma City has won nine straight games in the series and can complete a four-game season sweep Sunday night when the Suns get a rematch on their home court.
“Any competitor would want to have a chance at them again, and I’m sure we do,” Hunter said.
The Thunder connected on their first six shots and withstood the loss of both starting guards, Westbrook and Sefolosha, to two fouls within the first 6 minutes as Durant hit all four of his 3-point attempts in the first quarter. Two of them came during an 8-0 burst soon after Westbrook and Sefolosha came out, stretching Oklahoma City’s lead to 25-15.
Phoenix rallied with a string of eight straight points early in the second quarter, tying it at 35 when Kendall Marshall banked in a runner. The Suns led only twice, both times after baskets by Beasley in the final 3 minutes of the first half.
“There’s no reason to hang our heads. They’ve played in the finals. They know what it’s like and a lot of our guys don’t,” Hunter said. “This will be a positive teaching tool for us. Something to learn from, something never to forget.” NOTES: Martin, the NBA’s top foul shooter at 90.5 percent, made three of his four free throws. He hasn’t missed two in a game all season. … Durant had steals on the Suns’ first two possessions, causing coach Lindsey Hunter to call a timeout just 67 seconds into the game. … Phoenix was Oklahoma City’s opponent in its annual New Year’s Eve home game and will host the Thunder Sunday night on Chinese New Year, which the NBA is recognizing with special T-shirts for players to wear during pregame warmups.