Originally Published: Dec 23, 2009 11:8 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Staff and Wire Reports
PHOENIX, Arizona -- The Oklahoma City Thunder granted the Phoenix Suns and early Christmas gift: a 177-113 loss at home.
Kevin Durant led his team with 38 points for the night, followed by Russell Westbrook’s 19 and Jeff Green’s 17. The Thunder got off to a fast start, leading most of the first half, but surrendered their lead as the third quarter began.
Durant scored 11 points in the fourth quarter, including a key jumper from behind the key with just 14.4 seconds left in the game, giving Oklahoma City a 115-111.
"Don't underestimate this team," said Suns coach Alvin Gentry, even though the Thunder entered the game at 13-14, and the Suns entered 18-10, having lost only once in their previous 20 home games. "Except for being young, they're a very strong team. The things you love about them, they're young and energetic."
The Thunder, the second-youngest team in the NBA, used their youthful legs to outhustle the Suns, especially off the boards, where they enjoyed a 60-46 advantage. The Thunder scored 23 second-chance points to the Suns' nine off 16 offensive rebounds.
"Our goal wasn't to go to the goal (for rebounds) so much because they're such a good team in transition," Durant said.
"We just told ourselves to play hard and we would be rewarded. We didn't let them bust the game open. We got a big win against a playoff team."
Thunder coach Scott Brooks agreed with Durant.
"It was a great win for us," he said. "We had a lot of guys who stepped up and made a lot of winning basketball plays."
Gentry was critical of the Suns' inability to make big plays late.
"I think the difference in the game is that they made all the plays down the stretch and we just didn't make them," he said. "We had a couple of opportunities to go get rebounds and we gave up second shots and you can't do that, especially with a guy like Durant on the floor."
"We can't allow the offensive rebounds they managed tonight," he said. "We've got to find a better way to keep them off the offensive boards. I think teams are now saying, 'OK, we can crash the offensive boards against the Suns,' and we've got to change that mentality and do a better job of that."
Wednesday night’s game was the first time the team has beaten the Suns since Feb. 14, 2007.
James Harden scored 14, while Serge Ibaka had 12.
The Suns’ Amare Stoudemire had a season-high 35 points and 14 rebounds. Steve Nash and Channing Frye each scored 24, while Nash added 12 assists. Jason Richardson scored 13.
The Thunder will host the Charlotte Bobcats Dec. 26 at 7 p.m.
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