The Suns started the game, shall we say, flat. Nine missed shots, four turnovers and five fouls in the first 6:30. Wow.
That was a harbringer to the rest of the game against the West's second-best team.
The Suns came back with a solid run to pull within one before OKC fought back to restore the lead to 8 with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
Russell Westbrook came out to avenge the only thing that went wrong in the Thunder's 31-point blowout on Friday night by frustrating Dragic and scoring his own 9 points along with 3 assists in the first. Dragic gave up two early fouls and turned the ball over three times, to go along with 6 points and 1 assist in the "duel". Dragic is a very good player, but just isn't the guy to carry your team every minute.
The quarter ends on a terrible note, with the Thunder scoring the last 8 points to stretch the lead to 27-16 on two 3s by a wide, wide open Thabo Sefolosha sandwiching a short hook by Nick Collison. Surgical precision on those three possessions by OKC.
It got so bad at one point, the Suns appeared to be trying to match their season record (17-32) on the scoreboard. Hunter called a timeout after Sefolosha's 3rd wide open 3-pointer in a matter of minutes with the Suns down 16-30. Could it be he was drawing up a play to get free throws?
After that, the Suns woke up a bit (or, the Thunder went to sleep) and the Suns pulled to within 32-35 (a 16-5 run for the math challenged) before OKC got another open 3 by Sefolosha, a
charge was called on Westbrook foul on O'Neal and a sneaky steal by Westbrook on an outlet pass. Boom. 10 points again before the starters could even come back in.
At the halftime buzzer the OKC Thunder hit their second consecutive end-of-quarter 3. Westbrook tried to taunt Dragic after making the 27-foot shot in his face but Dragic refused to be taunted, just walking purposefully away. Westbrook was forced to look for congrats from his team instead as the Thunder enjoyed a 51-34 halftime lead. OKS closed the half on a 16-2 run after the Suns had cut the lead to 3.
In the first half, the Suns looked completely dominated in all areas.
Yet, they outscored the Thunder 22-14 in the paint. Let's start with the Suns. The Suns had 29 shots on goal IN THE PAINT in the first half alone (14 of them offensive rebounds). The Suns made 11 field goals in the paint, while the Thunder blocked 6 shots and committed ZERO fouls on the Suns 18 misses. That's 22 points on 29 attempts in the paint.
The Thunder, on the other hand, had 12 shots on goal IN THE PAINT in the first half (3 of those on offensive rebounds). They made 7 first-chance field goals (on 9 attempts), got three offensive rebounds on their two misses and scored another two of their points there (on free throws). That's 16 points on 12 attempts in the paint.
I'm not sayin'. I'm just sayin'.
The second half started out poorly for the Suns, giving up 4 quick points. Hunter replaced Jared Dudley with Kendall Marshall, going with the two-PG lineup that we have seen lately. Marshall had 3 points and 2 assists in the first half to earn the second-half burn.
Soon after that, O'Neal joined Gortat on the floor to make it 2 PGs and 2 Cs along with Tucker (then Beasley). Beasley was greeted to a lot of boos after shooting (and I mean shooting) 2-10 in the first half. No other Suns player had more than 4 attempts by the time Beasley had reached 10.
But this game was over.
The Suns did not come out to win in the second half, playing very tentative while the Thunder just took care of business. It was as if the Suns were playing a preseason game. Sure this is the 38-12 Thunder who are on a roll of 4 consecutive 20+ point blowouts (two of those NOT against the Suns, suprisingly).
When Shannon Brown finally came to spell Dragic at the 2 minute mark of the third, he promptly dribbled out the clock on a "dribble tantrum" that ended in a 25-foot double-teamed fallaway.
By this time, Suns fans could be heard regularly expressing their displeasure at the Suns' effort.
At the end of the third, the Suns had tallied only 48 points. Their franchise low is 68, set in 1981 against Kansas City, who moved to Sacramento, who are now (probably) moving to Seattle.
That meant the Suns needed 20 fourth-quarter points just to TIE their worst offensive output in 30 years.
The Suns appear to have no plan on offense, and their defense unravels against the best offensive team in the NBA.
This truly may be the Suns lowest point this season.
Can't wait to hear what they have to say in the locker room.
The three names at the top of every draft board are pretty simple. In the end the 2013 WNBA Draft will come down to Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne, and Skylar Diggins for the Phoenix Mercury.
Brittney Griner -- Senior, Center, Baylor Bears
She is a dynamic defensive senior standing 6-8 and is as intimidating a player in the paint defensively in the history of basketball. This season she set the mark for the most dunks by a woman in college basketball history, but even more impressive she is the NCAA D-1 leader in blocked shots. Men and women. Griner is a double-double machine and is always in the running for a triple-double with her defensive efforts. The senior is the best all-around prospect since Candace Parker
Why She Fits:
First of all she fits any and everywhere. No team would say to acquiring a 6-8 player with Griner's skill-set. She would be the dirty worker on a team already full of all-stars allowing them to do what they do best. Simplifying her role to be a rebounder and defender could maximize her talents taking this team to new heights.
Why She Doesn't Fit:
This is where stylistically one could nitpick. Griner does not fit the mold of this offense that is constantly running up-and-down the floor scoring points. That would not necessarily highlight her special abilities as a defender. Also, the team did just ink two young promising center to new deals, meaning they would have to carry three centers on the roster.
Elena Delle Donne -- Senior, F/C, Delaware Blue Hens
She brings the size as well at 6-5 and the ability to play both the four and the five at the next level. Delle Donne is a trenmendous shooter that can score the ball in high volume as she has done over the course of her four years in college. Do not let the name of her school fool you, Delle Donne was all set at Connecticut before returning home to play closer to her family. She rebounds the ball well, shoots it from about everywhere at a high percentage, and is a viable candidate to go No. 1 overall.
Why She Fits:
That seems easy. She is a great shooter, has the size to play the five, and would give the Mercury a potential line-up of five players capable of getting 20+ points a night. Her versatility as a scorer would balance out the court like an all-star game or US Olympic trial.
Why She Doesn't Fit:
Skylar Diggins -- Senior, PG, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
One of the premier point guards in the country at 5-9 with the ability to score, shoot, and distribute the ball at a very high level. Diggins is known as a scorer, but carried her team to being the National Runner-Ups with a bevy of unique talents. Her ability to break down the defense is second to nobody at this level and will be highlighted even more in the more up-tempo WNBA game.
Why She Fits:
There are very few point guards that can take over a game like "Sky" Diggins can. She has the ability to score and distribute fitting in well alongside any players. The stars on the Mercury are not getting any younger so adding Diggins could be a way to preserve the balance of greatness on the roster for the next 7-9 years.
Why She Doesn't Fit:
There is no "field" in this class. The team will either take a dominant force, an amazing shooter, or a dynamic play-maker.
It may not have been a banner year overall for the Phoenix Mercury (7-27) last season, but they were able to give opportunities to other, young, talented players that were able to shine. That is exactly what Krystal Thomas did.
In 29 total games Thomas dominated the glass grabbing 233 total boards (8.0 per game) good for tops on the team. That total was good for ninth best in the WNBA, on a per game she was sixth overall, and fourth in offensive rebounds per game. When Thomas was brought in she was in competition with Avery Warley as the teams dirty worker, but Thomas proved to be one of the best rebounders in the league individually.
Those rebounding performances were just what the team needed to see to make it official in re-signing Thomas going forward. Terms were not disclosed per team policy.
Additionally the Mercury signed sharp shooting big Lynetta Kizer.
The two give the Mercury two centers of different skills providing depth and youth to the position. This creates a unique situation for the team as they are positioned No. 1 Overall in the 2013 WNBA Draft, that is headlined by two stellar bigs.
How does this effect the teams draft strategy?
***The Mercury currently have eight players under contract: Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, Candice Dupree, Samantha Prahalis, Charde Houston, Alexis Hornbuckle, Krystal Thomas, and Lynetta Kizer.
***The WNBA Draft will take place April, 15th on ESPN at () p.m. EST.
***A WNBA roster is allocated 11 total spots unless they are grated injury waivers, which the Mercury took advantage of last season.
***After the WNBA Draft and the Mercury will have eight roster spots locked up freeing just two spots for the likes of DeWanna Bonner, Nakia Sanford, Dymond Simon, and other draft picks.
***Spoke to a high ranking source with the team, no chance the team let's Bonner leave, she is a restricted free-agent.
As a competitive athlete it had to be borderline impossible for Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor to watch their team, the Phoenix Mercury, secure the worst season in franchise history.
They have now had over half a year to let that soak in. This is a team of championship pedigree and unlimited talent, but die to injuries the team will now welcome the No. 1 Overall Pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft as well as the DeWanna Bonner, the leagues newest star.
For ticket information for waht may be a historic season, go here
Below is the official 2013 Phoenix Mercury schedule:
|DATE||OPPONENT||LOCAL TIME||NAT TV|
|May||Opponent||Local Time||Nat TV|
|Mon 27||vs Chicago||2:00pm||ESPN2|
|Sun 02||@ Seattle||6:00pm|
|Thu 06||@ Minnesota||5:00pm|
|Sat 08||@ Indiana||12:30pm||ABC|
|Fri 14||vs Los Angeles||7:00pm|
|Sun 16||@ Tulsa||1:30pm|
|Wed 19||vs Minnesota||7:00pm|
|Fri 21||vs Washington||7:00pm|
|Tue 25||@ San Antonio||5:00pm||ESPN2|
|Thu 27||@ Washington||4:00pm|
|Sat 29||@ Connecticut||4:00pm|
|Tue 02||vs New York||7:00pm|
|Sun 07||@ Minnesota||4:00pm|
|Wed 10||vs San Antonio||12:30pm|
|Sun 14||vs Los Angeles||3:00pm|
|Thu 18||@ Los Angeles||7:00pm||ESPN2|
|Sun 21||vs Minnesota||3:00pm|
|Wed 24||@ Minnesota||10:00am|
|Thu 01||@ Seattle||7:00pm|
|Sat 03||vs Atlanta||7:00pm|
|Tue 06||vs Seattle||7:00pm||ESPN2|
|Fri 09||vs Tulsa||7:00pm|
|Sun 11||vs Tulsa||3:00pm|
|Wed 14||vs Indiana||7:00pm|
|Sat 17||@ San Antonio||5:00pm|
|Tue 20||@ Tulsa||5:00pm|
|Fri 23||vs Seattle||7:00pm|
|Sat 31||vs Connecticut||7:00pm|
|Fri 06||vs San Antonio||7:00pm|
|Sun 08||@ Atlanta||12:00pm|
|Tue 10||@ New York||4:00pm|
|Wed 11||@ Chicago||5:00pm||ESPN2|
|Fri 13||vs San Antonio||7:00pm|
|Sun 15||@ Los Angeles||2:00pm|