Although the Oklahoma City Thunder win a majority of their games
behind a high-powered offense led by All-Stars Kevin Durant and
Russell Westbrook, coach Scott Brooks wants his team to put some
extra emphasis on the defensive end.
They seemingly shouldn’t have much trouble with that request
against the offensively challenged Phoenix Suns in Oklahoma City on
The Thunder (37-12) average a league-best 106.2 points, with
Durant leading all scorers at 29.3 per game and Westbrook ranking
seventh at 22.6. The team put together one of its better offensive
showings Wednesday in a 119-98 victory over Golden State.
Durant had 25 points, Westbrook scored 22 and Kevin Martin added
21 as Oklahoma City won consecutive games for the first time in
nearly three weeks after alternating wins and losses for the
previous eight contests.
While the Thunder’s offense led the way, the defense limited the
Warriors to 19 points in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City has won
28 straight games when holding opponents to 98 points or fewer.
“I’m looking for us to just continue to bring the effort on the
defensive end,” Brooks said. “I’ve always felt with our guys as the
season has gone and the years have gone by that offensively we’re
going to keep improving in that area but we wanted to focus on
Although Brooks is looking for another strong showing from his
defense, he wouldn’t mind if Oklahoma City’s offense continues to
have its way with Phoenix. The Thunder are averaging 112.0 points
while winning the last eight in the series – two this season.
In the last meeting Jan. 14, Durant and Westbrook combined for
47 of the Thunder’s 51 points after halftime in a 102-90 road
victory. Durant finished with 41 while Westbrook had 36.
Clamping down defensively also shouldn’t be a problem for the
Thunder, who’ve won 18 of 19 at home while the Suns have dropped 16
of 19 on the road.
Phoenix (17-33) is averaging 91.9 points while cracking triple
digits just once over its last 19 games overall, including both
losses to Oklahoma City. The Suns sputtered down the stretch in
Wednesday’s 93-84 loss at New Orleans, scoring 13 fourth-quarter
“Tough, tough loss for us,” said interim coach Lindsey Hunter,
who is 4-5 since taking over for Alvin Gentry on Jan. 20. “Not many
positives can be taken from the game. Like I said, I am discouraged
but I am still encouraged because I know where we are going to be
and I know how we are going to do it.”
Hunter’s vision probably requires better shooting from the
perimeter. The Suns were 1 of 15 on 3-point attempts Wednesday, and
are shooting 25.0 percent from beyond the arc in their last six
Center Marcin Gortat has been on target, hitting 15 of 20 from
the field in his last two contests. He has also posted a pair of
double-doubles against Oklahoma City this season, averaging 15.5
points and 12.5 rebounds.