Shai Gilgeous-Alexander's MVP case and 3 other takeaways from Thunder's win vs Suns

Mar 3, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) and Oklahoma City Thunder
Mar 3, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kevin Durant (35) and Oklahoma City Thunder / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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The OKC Thunder were seemingly in cruise control during the third quarter of their Sunday night bout against the Suns, pressing their lead up to as much as 24 points before Phoenix started to chip away at their deficit and, in the fourth, even took back the lead.

With this, it led to fears over whether this young Oklahoma City squad would succumb to the adversity and falter against their much more experienced foe.

Fortunately, this team is built different. 

The Thunder picked themselves up, executed well from both ends of the floor, and took back control late in the exhibition, holding off the Suns by a final score of 118-110 in their nationally televised showdown.

As a result, coupled with the Minnesota Timberwolves loss earlier in the night, OKC moved to the number one seed in the Western Conference with a 42-18 record, thrusting them half a game above the long-time top-seeded Wolves. 

It was another masterclass for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is slowly earning ballots for this season’s Most Valuable Player award. The 25-year-old budding superstar posted 35 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists, along with three steals and three blocks. 

Gilgeous-Alexander was a dynamo on both ends of the floor, holding his own against a taller Kevin Durant on numerous stretches of the game and winning matchups versus Phoenix’s quicker guards such as Bradley Beal and Grayson Allen. 

"I just play the game level-headed, always try to play the next possession in front of me."

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Shortly after the Suns’ built a six-point lead early in the fourth quarter, Gilgeous-Alexander was deployed back into the game. In about five minutes, the Thunder engineered a 19-5 run, turning the six-point deficit to an eight-point Thunder lead with about four to go in regulation. 

"Basketball is a game of runs, so it’s ups and downs. You just got to try to turn the tide and you only do that by taking possession by possession. I try to keep the same mentality no matter what’s going on."

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Gilgeous-Alexander may have bettered his case for this season's MVP award Sunday, but this wasn't the only noteworthy aspect of the night. In turn, there are a few other key takeaways from the Thunder's win over Phoenix.