Suns take down Thunder for second time this season
PHOENIX (AP) — For the 41st game in a row, Kevin Durant scored at least 25 points. Not even Michael Jordan ever did that.
Even so, Durant would probably trade his 38 points for a win.
P.J. Tucker, who had to guard Durant most of Sunday night’s game, scored 11 of his career-high 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Suns beat the Thunder 122-115, earning a critical victory in their drive for the postseason and dealing a blow to Oklahoma City’s tenuous hold on the No. 2 spot in the West.
Goran Dragic scored 26 points, Gerald Green 24 and Eric Bledsoe 18 for Phoenix, which shot a season-best 58.4 percent.
With Memphis’ loss to San Antonio, the Suns are a game ahead of the Grizzlies for the eighth spot in the West and a half-game behind the Mavericks for the seventh spot.
Durant’s streak surpassed Jordan’s of 40 in a row with 25 or more point and is the longest since Oscar Robertson did it for 46 straight games in 1963-64. Wilt Chamberlain had 25 or more points in all 80 regular-season games in the 1961-62 season.
Yet Durant is totally unimpressed by his streak.
"I don’t really care about it," he said. "I can’t wait until it’s over."
Russell Westbrook scored 33 for the Thunder, who lead the Clippers by a game for the West’s No. 2 playoff spot.
Oklahoma City took its final lead, 112-111, on Durant’s two free throws with 2:39 to play.
But Phoenix scored the next 10 points, the first four by Markieff Morris and the last four on free throws by Bledsoe, to lead 121-112 with 20.7 seconds to play. Durant sank a 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds to go, the only Thunder field goal in the final 3:49.
"It’s all or nothing right now," Green said. "We don’t have a month left to try and make up. We only got a few more games, so it’s win or go home for us."
Tucker was a career-best 4 of 5 from behind the arc.
After struggling at the line all night, Phoenix made its last eight free throws.
"Everybody is trying to win at this point," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said. "It was a good test for us and one that these guys passed."
Phoenix won the season series against Oklahoma City 2-1.
"We feel like very game we play we can win, throughout the league," Tucker said. "We have confidence that we can play with anybody in the league."
Phoenix plays its next three on the road — at New Orleans, San Antonio and Dallas.
"It’s a big win for us," Dragic said. "We’re a step closer, but we’re still a long way from our goal."
Thunder coach Scott Brooks said the Suns’ excellent shooting was not solely the result of poor defense.
"They’re a very good offensive team," he said. "They give you trouble because they’re small, they attack, they get to the free-throw line, they can make 3s and they’re desperate right now. They’re fighting for their playoff lives."
Still, he said, the Thunder "didn’t do a good enough job closing out their shooters."
"When you have good shooters, you can’t have mistakes," Brooks said, "and we had too many mistakes on the defensive end."
The Suns led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, the last time at 85-71 on Green’s 14-footer with 6:10 left, and were up 92-83 after consecutive layups by Dragic and Bledsoe with 4:04 left.
But the Thunder outscored them 8-2 the rest of the quarter, with Durant’s driving dunk with 13 seconds left cutting Phoenix’s lead to 94-91 after three.
Durant and Nick Collison scored to start the fourth quarter, and Oklahoma City led for the first time since the first quarter, 95-94, with 11:06 to play.
The lead bounced back and forth after that. Tucker’s reverse layup put Phoenix up 111-110 with 1:52 to go.
Marcus Morris sank a pair of jumpers in a 12-4 run that put the Suns up 38-29 early in the second quarter. Oklahoma City cut it to 44-41 on Reggie Jackson’s driving layup, but Tucker sank a 3 and Dragic converted a three-point play before scoring on another drive to put the Suns back up 52-43 with 3:53 to go. They led 62-53 at the break.
NOTES: The Suns are 20-0 this season when shooting at least 50 percent from the field. … Dragic scored all 19 of his first-half points in the second quarter. Green scored 17 of his 24 in the second half. … Phoenix plays four of its final five games on the road. The Suns’ last home game is against the Grizzlies on April 14.