OKLAHOMA CITY — When Phoenix looks at the way Oklahoma City is built, it sees a team with an abundance of riches. With players such as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder never have to worry about trying to manufacture buckets late in games.
The Suns are not able to say the same thing. In their 114-96 loss to the Thunder Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena, they couldn’t find a go-to player to counter the duo of Westbrook and Durant when they needed it the most.
“It’s a combination of we can’t get stops and we can’t score,” Phoenix’s Jared Dudley said. “They know exactly how they want to score, which plays they are going to run. We are still searching. In crunch time, they have two go-to guys, we are still trying to find one.”
Oklahoma City (24-6) enters the New Year with the second best start in franchises history. Only the 1993-94 Seattle SuperSonics had a better record after 30 games.
“It was a great year for us as an organization and as a team,” Westbrook said. “I’m proud to be part of this team with the group of guys that we have leading us into 2013. I’m looking forward to some good things.”
Despite having to get stitches at halftime after getting struck by a inadvertent elbow, Thunder guard Russell Westbrook finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and nine assists.
The Suns kept the game close for three quarters behind the strong play of Jermaine O’Neal and Luis Scola. However, the Thunder exploded in the fourth quarter with Westbrook and Kevin Durant scoring at will.
Oklahoma City outscored Phoenix 30-18 in the final period as the Suns lost their sixth straight game.
“I thought it was a good team win,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “A lot of guys did a lot of good things offensively. We were able to score the b all and take care of the basketball and we only had five turnovers.”