Short-Handed Thunder no Match for Red Hot Suns

Erik Gee

The Oklahoma City Thunder fall to 3-3 in the NBA restart and 43-27 overall after a 128-101 beating by the Phoenix Suns. The Thunder was down three starters (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari) and Nerlens Noel, while the Suns were without 6-11 center Deandre Ayton for the first quarter. 

Ayton was waiting on the results of a COVID-19 test, and during his absence, the Oklahoma City reserves built a 15 point lead. Once Ayton was able to play, the Suns became a different team taking their first lead during the closing seconds of the second quarter to go up 65-64.

Phoenix would open the third quarter with an 11-2 run, and though the Thunder would get as close as eight, there was no answer for the Suns' potent offense lead by Devin Booker. Booker would finish with 35 points, including a 39-foot dagger, that summed up the afternoon. 

Darius Bazley used his time in the starting lineup to score 22 points and grab 10 rebounds. Bazley, who had 23 against the Wizards, has become the first Thunder rookie since James Harden to score 20 plus in back to back games. 

Thunder point guard Chris Paul is amazed by Bazley's growth. 

"Baze is like a brother to me."..."We watch games, we talk."..."He's so talented, and for him, to a be rookie, a lot is being thrown at him."..."To see his growth from where he started this season has been impressive." 

The Thunder leads the Jazz by half a game for fifth in the West, after Utah's loss to the Mavericks. Up next, it's the Heat Wednesday at 7 pm on Fox Sports Oklahoma and 97.1 The Sports Animal. 

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With more than 20 years of experience hosting local and national radio shows, Erik Gee is a fixture of Oklahoma sports media. He has covered the Oklahoma City Thunder for the past six seasons. He is also the co-host of the Pat Jones show on 97.1 The Sports Animal in Tulsa.