Sunday night against the Thunder, the Phoenix Suns were one of those party-popper firecrackers — pull the string, see the flash of flame and smoke, hear the crack…
…And then what?
The Suns gave up a 20-point lead to the Thunder, who ended up winning by 12, 109-97. Concurrently, the loss rendered the glimmer of playoff hopes in Phoenix to about the size of a confetti speck.
T.J. Warren had a career night for the Suns with 18 points, five boards, two assists, two steals and a block and Markieff Morris led his team with 24 points and seven rebounds.
In fact, Morris started the party with some sizzle, hitting seven of his first eight attempts from the field and scoring all 11 of the Suns’ first points.
He finished the quarter with 16 of Phoenix’s 35, the team’s first 35-point period since Feb. 25.
Phoenix would open the second quarter on 62 percent shooting and built the lead to as much as 20 points.
Then Russell Westbrook started hitting.
The Thunder went on an 8-2 run in the second quarter and Westbrook went on one of his own, scoring 16 points in a row for the Thunder.
By halftime, Westbrook had 23 of his game-high 33. Still, Phoenix held an eight-point advantage courtesy of the Morris twins’ 31 combined points and the team’s 55.8 percent shooting.
The Suns opened the second half 1-of-15 and missed nine in a row mid-period. Oklahoma City tied up the game at 71 with five minutes left, and surged from there as the Suns went cold.
The Thunder sealed their victory with a 13-0 run midway through the final quarter and outscored the Suns 33-18 in the final frame.
What were the numbers?
Markieff Morris started hot for the Suns, but finished cold — he hit just one of his last nine field goal attempts.
The Thunder hit 10 threes on 26 attempts, eight of which came in the second half.
Phoenix sank just five triples on 22 attempts — and made just one in the second half.
The Suns were beating Oklahoma City on the glass 24-17 in the first half, but the Thunder won out in the end, 48-40.
Suns guard Brandon Knight saw his first action in eight games after suffering an ankle sprain in early March.
He played 22 minutes, scored 3 points and was 1-of-10 from the field before appearing to re-injure his ankle in the third quarter. He was pulled and did not return.
Eric Bledsoe had 15 points and seven assists in the effort, but turned the ball over six times — the most of any Suns player.
The Suns were outscored 33-18 in the fourth quarter, and only two of those points came from Westbrook, who posted his 28th 30-point game of the season early and then sat out the final minutes of the game.
The Suns’ promising 35 first-quarter points were matched by the third and fourth periods combined (17, 18).
Phoenix ultimately lost this years’ series against the Thunder 3-1 and falls to four games behind Oklahoma City in the Western Conference playoff standings with eight games to play.
This means the Suns would have to finish the season ahead of the Thunder to be in the playoffs.
Just for “fun”
These things usually are fun, right?