Thunder, Suns square off in OKC

Updated: February 8, 2013

The Oklahoma City Thunder finally put two wins in a row
together and will aim for three Friday night when they host the Phoenix Suns
at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The reigning Western Conference champions handled the Dallas Mavericks on
Monday, then dispatched the Golden State Warriors 119-98 on Wednesday night.
Both of those victories came at home and Friday night will cap a three-game
stand in OKC.

The Thunder had alternated wins and losses over their previous eight before
the back-to-back victories this week.

Kevin Durant, of course, led the Thunder in scoring with 25 points on 10-
for-18 shooting. Russell Westbrook added 22 points and Kevin Martin came off
the bench with 21.

But Wednesday’s win was a great all-around team effort. Serge Ibaka netted 15
points, grabbed nine rebounds, handed out four assists and blocked six shots.
The Thunder posted season-highs with 16 blocked shots and 12 steals.

Reggie Jackson chipped in 12 points and Kendrick Perkins pulled down 11

“It was really good, we had some good carry over from last game,” Durant said.
“We were able to get our hands on the basketball and make some tough shots and
contest at the rim. Perkins was good, Russell was good, we had to follow up
(and increase) the lead.”

The Suns will complete a three-game road swing on Friday and have gone 1-1
thus far. They earned a great victory Tuesday in Memphis, but fell to the New
Orleans Hornets the following night, 93-84.

Against the Hornets, five Suns scored in double figures, but no one topped the
14 points by Marcin Gortat and Jared Dudley. Goran Dragic had 13 and Luis
Scola and Michael Beasley netted 11 apiece.

Phoenix shot 45 percent from the field, but only six percent from long range.
They committed 17 turnovers and didn’t defend well enough. The Hornets shot 52
percent for the evening.

“Not many positives that we can take from the game tonight,” admitted interim
head coach Lindsey Hunter. “We turned the ball over. We didn’t have as many
assists as we would like to have. They shot over 50 percent from the field, so
you put a big strain on your offense when a team shoots that high of a
percentage. I am discouraged, but I am still encouraged because I know where
we are going to be and I know how we are going to do it.”

The Suns are now 4-5 under Hunter, but they are certainly playing tougher,
especially on the road. Phoenix is 2-4 away from Arizona under Hunter, but
both of those victories came after trailing after three quarters. They were
0-15 under those circumstances prior to Hunter’s arrival.

The Thunder have won eight consecutive games against the Suns and Phoenix
hasn’t won in Oklahoma City since Dec. 19, 2010.