In their home opener on Sunday night, the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Phoenix Suns in a closely contested tilt, 103-96.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with a double-double effort, having 33 points and 10 rebounds. Russell Westbrook–in his first game back from a knee injury that he sustained during the 2012 playoffs–had 21 points and seven assists. Reggie Jackson also helped out with 10 points.
For the Suns, Eric Bledsoe led the team in both points and assists, with 26 and 14, respectively. Gerald Green put up 21 points and eight rebounds, while Chris Frye–who played incredibly well down the stretch–had 19 points. Both Green and Frye shot 50-percent on the night.
The Suns came into Chesapeake Arena looking to win, and for most of the game, it appeared that they would. In the third quarter, Phoenix stretched its lead to seven points, but each time the Suns tried to go on a run, Oklahoma City countered. The Suns even had 24 fast break points, and made 14 of 37 shots from beyond the arc. Conversely, OKC shot 18 and made just two.
As much as the Suns took it to the Thunder, you can’t win a game if you don’t stop the opposing team. When it counted, Phoenix just could not contain Oklahoma City, and careless errors–like 23 turnovers–kept this game away from the Suns.
In the fourth quarter, Westbrook missed a dunk that would have put OKC up by one point. Then, Durant knocked down the deep three with four minutes left in the game to send the Thunder up 87-83. A minute later, Durant put up another shot and got fouled. He went to the line for the and-one point, and knocked that down, too.
But the Suns would not give up. Bledsoe drove hard to the basket in the final minutes to cut OKC’s lead to 90-87, but Westbrook returned fire, putting up and sinking a short jumper. Derek Fisher followed that up with a floater and got fouled, and made the subsequent free throw to give the Thunder a three-point play. The Thunder now touted a 95-87 lead.
Bledsoe dropped a deep two-pointer to cut into OKC’s lead, 95-89, and Frye swished a two-pointer to make it a one-possession game.
With 32 seconds left though, Durant drove to the basket in traffic and finished at the rim, making the shot and drawing the foul. He made it, and the 97-92 lead looked to be the dagger in Phoenix’s push for a comeback.
Then, Green hit the three ball with 30 seconds left to cut it to 97-95. Westbrook was then fouled on the inbound, and he made both free throws to give Oklahoma City a two-possession cushion again.
On Phoenix’s next inbound Green stepped out of bounds, crowded by Sefalosha, and turned it over.
In the final 15 seconds, Ibaka grabbed a defensive board to put the ball back in Oklahoma City’s hands, with the score at 101-95. From there, Durant would take and make two more free throws, and officially took all the wind out of the Suns’ sails.
It was a close game for the Thunder, but a thrilling game one to the end.
With the win, OKC advances to 2-1 on the season. They challenge the Dallas Mavericks next on Wed., Nov. 6 at 9:30 PM ET.