The Phoenix Suns (1-3) end the 2011 calendar year with a loss to the extremely hot, cohesive and still unbeaten Oklahoma City Thunder (5-0). Kevin Durant was held in check for most of the night but despite shooting 4 of 11 the Thunder easily handled the Suns. They really didn't need him.
As expected on the second night of a back-to-back our Suns starters came out very cold and slow and early found themselves down 19-9 at one point. The rest of the game was a tale of ups and downs... but mostly downs. Though the Suns had pulled to within 3 at one point and ended the 1st quarter down by only 5 - the second quarter got out of hand as Daequan Cook nailed 4 of 5 3-point attempts and the Thunder pulled away for a 20 point lead. The Suns defense clamped down near the end of the half and only allowed the Thunder to score 6 points in the final 6 minutes of the 2nd quarter - still the Thunder shot 58% from the field and the score was 60-46 Oklahoma at the half.
Coming back from the break the Suns again came out offensively flat and the Thunder improved their shooting percentages and pulled away to a comfortable lead. With about 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter the Suns starters (with the exception of Jared Dudley) took a seat for good and the bench played out the rest of the game.
There were some positives... there were a lot of negatives... AND there's always next year. Let's just pretend like 2011 didn't happen, OK? Jump it for a few extra notes - or else, go and party hard and welcome in the New Year - be safe everyone!Here are my notes - because I'm too lazy on this New Year's Eve to take extra time on this loss recap.. you get table scrap notes! Yay!
Hey did we really expect to win this? The Thunder are the number 1 team in the Western Conference and many pundits have chosen them to win it all. They have the most returning players, they have the best player (debatable) in the NBA and they have a seemingly endless fountain of youth, talent, shooters, bigs, and other important basketball stuff that makes your team good.
The Suns, not as much. While the Thunder are a team that is boiling and running at a full sprint, the Phoenix Suns are team struggling to simmer.
Like I've said this past week, 1-4 isn't good - but I won't lose hope or realistic expectation for this Suns team to make the playoffs until there is a big enough pool of games and team adjustments to judge from. The West is wide open, and playing the OKC Thunder was a good measuring stick. We need A LOT of work.
Be safe this New Years my friends. Stay Frosty.
Eutychus' Record: 0-1 :(
Up and Down, Up and Down... you'd think this Suns team was a team trying to find some kind of balance like it was the first week of the season or something...
Eat your rally bananas and get your New Year's party hats on - we've got to come out the gate quick in the second half!
Have at you!
Happy New Year! ... almost.
Let's prep for the fun night with some Phoenix Suns basketball!
What are your plans for after the game tonight?
Any 'New Year's Resolutions' out there?
If the Phoenix Suns had a New Year's Resolution what do you think it would be?
You want a test eh? You want a measuring stick? Enter the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Kevin Durant has his team playing terrific basketball already and in their fourth game in five nights last night against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks the Thunder shot a crazy 58.7% from the field and won the game on an insane Durant buzzerbeater. The Thunder sit atop the Western Conference at 4-0.
After 3 games the Phoenix Suns sit 1-2 and have the 9th best team DRtg in the league. What? You can continue to make excuses about how the Hornets' offense was terrible last night but there is no question that the Suns are playing a much higher level of defense than we're used to seeing here in the desert. The Suns also hold the 3rd lowest turnover average per game at 13 - they are taking care of the ball and getting after it defensively, those are good things.
Another positive is that our offensive identity started to poke it's head out just a little bit last night, especially from our shooting guard position and in our fastbreak transition points. The team was legitimately 'running' again last night and it was a very welcome familiar sight.
So tonight we will see if the Suns can continue to improve. The Thunder are a very young and athletic group of physical dudes, this will be our first back to back game of the season - but also this will be the 5th game in 6 nights for the Thunder. Let's get ready to rumble. A little more after the jump.
Here's a few positives and Negatives I noted from last night's game -