After winning three straight games, the Oklahoma City Thunder‘s defensive issues resurfaced in their 128-122 road loss to the Phoenix Suns. After scoring 41 first-quarter points, the Thunder were outscored in the final three quarters.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 70 points on the night, but Gerald Green would lead the Suns to victory behind an impressive 41-point performance. For the Thunder, Westbrook almost put up his second triple-double in just as many games, finishing with 36-points, nine rebounds and nine assists in only 30 minutes of play. He is clearly back to his dominant form, which is a great sign for the Thunder all around. Durant’s 34 came on 12-of-24 shooting. He is obviously ready to finish off what he started, while Westbrook sat out.
Although the Thunder let this game get away from them, there were many good things to take away from their performance. Aside from the great night from the two superstars, Caron Butler scored 14 points, showing that he is going to be a factor going forward. Serge Ibaka has been highly consistent all season and he continued to impress tonight, scoring 18 points and blocking three shots. What ultimately doomed the Thunder tonight was their lackluster defense and the lack of production from Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb.
Jackson and Lamb still seem to be uncomfortable with their new roles after playing so well with Westbrook out. They combined for only 11-points on the night. If the Thunder can play up to their potential on defense, then these two can afford to have bad games on some nights. If not, these two will have to step it up because their lack of production could seriously hurt their team’s chances of winning an NBA championship.