It was a career night as James Harden returned to Arizona, where he played college ball for Arizona State (boo!).
Harden scored his career best 40 points on just 17 shots as the Thunder take out the Phoenix Suns 109-97.
The Suns had four technical fouls, by Steve Nash, Sebastian Telfair, Robin Lopez and Coach Alvin Gentry.
Jared Dudley led the Suns with 21 points. No one else scored more than 13.
The Thunder continue their quest for the 1 seed Friday in Sacramento.
Kevin Durant- B+ 29pts/11reb/5ast/2blk
Going for his third straight scoring title, Kevin Durant got his due scoring 29 points in a game where it was all James Harden. He added 11 rebounds and a couple blocks in a big win that keeps the Thunder in the race for home court.
Russell Westbrook- D 15pts/6reb/5ast/2stl
Westbrook struggled throughout the game, even getting benched for a while during the second half. He only played 31 minutes and shot at a 37.5% clip. It seemed like Russell, along with the rest of the team, just took a backseat tonight.
Serge Ibaka- C 9pts/3reb/1blk
In just 18 minutes, Ibaka couldn’t have much of an impact on the game. He garnered just one block and only grabbed three rebounds. The Suns are a generally small team, so having Ibaka in there wasn’t helping them on the defensive end. Once he works on his perimeter defense, he won’t have to be taken out in these situations.
Kendrick Perkins- B 5pts/9reb
The Thunder big men have not been a factor on the offensive end this year, but what they do is lock down the paint. Marcin Gortat, who scored 28 points in their last meeting, could not hit anything tonight. Thanks to the effort from Perkins and Ibaka, the Suns were forced to take their game to the perimeter, where they shot 6-20 from 3-point range.
James Harden- A++ 40pts/7reb/3ast/4stl
WOW! James Harden showed why he is going to be one of the premier 2-guards in the NBA for years to come. He was hitting on all cylinders tonight. Leading the league in TS% from the guard position, Harden scored with incredible efficiency. One of the main reasons he is able to take over a game is his ability to get to the free throw line. He made all 11 of his attempts from the charity stripe, to go along with seven rebounds and four steals. Great games like these from Harden are the reason the Thunder will be so dangerous in the playoffs.
Rest of the Thunder- C+
I can’t stand Derek Fisher right now. He took seven shots and didn’t come close on any except for the one he made at the end of the first half. He’s in there to be a veteran and not make mistakes, not take shots he isn’t going to make. Nick Collison ended up playing more minutes than Serge Ibaka, and played well. A high motor guy who isn’t afriad to set a screen and take charges is a player that all championship teams need.