The Thunder traveled to Talking Stick Resort Arena to take on the Phoenix Suns after a tough holiday stint dropping back-to-back games. With Paul George and Alex Abrines scratched from the lineup, Russell Westbrook went off for 40 points to lead OKC to a big 118-102 victory.
Season-high 40 points.— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) December 29, 2018
This one was a high scoring affair from the start, as Westbrook scored six quick points to set the tone early. Westbrook kept the tempo high in the quarter, finishing 7-8 from the field and tallying 15 points. Steven Adams activated the post defense with two steals early in the quarter, and he also grabbed five rebounds. OKC closed the quarter with a seven point lead 36-29.
The Suns opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run to regain the lead after OKC couldn’t buy a basket to start the quarter. Devin Booker hit a deep three to add to their run. Abdel Nader kept the game within reach with a strong and-1, which sparked an OKC run to close the quarter. Nader scored eight points in his first seven minutes, giving OKC momentum going into half-time with a 58-57 lead.
OKC started out cold to begin the second half, which sparked another quick run for the Suns to get back on top. Nader continued to hit shots as he banged a clutch three to give OKC the lead midway through the third, which was then answered by a Booker three. Jerami Grant played a huge role offensively down low scoring three straight baskets. OKC let up two deep threes late in the quarter, trailing by six. Dennis Schröder hit a shot at the buzzer to cut the lead to 84-81.
Schröder caught fire in the fourth, hitting the next four baskets for the Thunder. After starting 1-7 in the first half, he scored 12 of OKC’s 20 points midway through the fourth. Schröder hit back to back threes which seemingly wrapped this one up, but Devin Booker kept the Suns in it. Westbrook scored nine straight points giving OKC a 17-point lead to put the game out of reach for Phoenix. The Thunder went on to beat the Suns 118-102 in a much needed victory on the road.
Back in the win column. Final from Phoenix. pic.twitter.com/sEWP2pAXRv— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) December 29, 2018
Thunder Player of the Game
Abdel Nader was the story of this game as his presence off the bench sparked OKC’s offense to come alive. In Paul George’s absence, Nader stepped up in a crucial role finishing with 16 points and 5 rebounds. He converted on two and-one’s and splashed a deep three. OKC desperately needs someone like Nader to step up in wake of injury, and he certainly fulfilled the duty in his 28 minutes on Friday night.
3 Quick Thoughts
- Big Win After Tough Last Two Games: Friday’s win at Phoenix was huge to remain a top seed in the conference. After two tough losses, including the Christmas day matchup in Houston, OKC desperately needed a win in absence of both Paul George and Abrines.
- Schröder Makes Adjustment: After starting the first half shooting 1-7 from the field, Dennis Schröder came out improved in the second scoring OKC’s first four buckets in the fourth. Schröder caught fire, which contributed to the Thunder pulling away fast. The confidence in his deep range shots in the fourth was night and day in comparison to the first half.
- Show Nader Some Respect: Abdel Nader certainly deserves your respect after tonight’s performance. OKC’s bench has seemingly improved over the past few weeks with solid performances from both Diallo and Nader tonight. Should Nader receive more minutes after tonights performance?
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