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Oklahoma City limits Suns to 69 points in blowout win

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX - The Oklahoma City Thunder are in the midst of their best stretch of the season, and the Phoenix Suns responded by offering one of the worst games in their 46-year history.

Russell Westbrook scored 17 of his 24 points in the first half, and Thabo Sefolosha scored 15 of his 20 from behind the 3-point arc as the Thunder beat the Suns for the 10th straight time in convincing fashion Sunday, 97-69 at US Airways Center.

The Thunder (39-12) trail the San Antonio Spurs, who also won Sunday, by a half-game in the race for the best record in the NBA. They put up a season-high point total in a 127-96 rout of the Suns on Friday, and tied a season-low for points allowed in the rematch with Phoenix.

"We're playing extremely well right now, trusting one another and making the extra pass and the extra rotation on defense," said Sefolosha, who averages 7.3 points a game but backed up his season-high 18 points on Friday by hitting 5 of 7 shots from beyond the three-point line. "We have a very good team that can win a lot of different ways."

They used almost all of those ways to complete a season sweep of the Suns. Oklahoma City has now won 28 games by 10 or more points this season, including all four against Phoenix. And even without Kevin Martin, who sat out with a case of the flu, this one was ugly for the home team.

"Where do I start? We got that out of the way," Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter said. "We were outplayed in every aspect of the game. I told the guys, 'It's one game. I've seen worse. I have been part of worse.' "

But when it comes to scoring points for the Suns, only one has been worse in the more than 3,600 games they have played as a franchise. That was in 1981, when Phoenix managed only 68 points against the old Kansas City Kings. It appeared that 32-year-old record would fall until Wesley Johnson slammed home an uncontested offensive rebound with 7.8 seconds remaining to avoid an inglorious end to a very long night.

"If I could give the fans their money back, I would," said Suns forward Jared Dudley, who played only eight minutes and didn't score. "You always expect that if you get in a fight to come back the next day and put up a better effort. Obviously today was the same (as Friday) if not worse because you're at home."

Phoenix made only 30 of 91 shots (33 percent) and committed 23 turnovers. The Suns scored 16, 18 and 14 points in the first three quarters and didn't have a double-figure scorer heading to the fourth.

Markieff Morris, who led the Suns with 12 points and was the only Sun in double figures, finally got to 10 points on a 3-pointer with 5:48 left in the game, about two minutes after Phoenix broke the 50-point mark.

P.J. Tucker finished with eight points for the Suns, who have lost seven of the last nine and are now tied for the second-worst record in franchise history after 52 games.

Kevin Durant added 18 points and seven rebounds, but was barely needed as the Thunder toyed with the Suns for about 20 minutes before taking off with a 16-2 run to end the first half. The Suns took 49 shots in the half and missed 34 of them, with Michael Beasley going 2-for-10 and Tucker and Luis Scola shooting a combined 4-for-14.

"Anytime you can hold an NBA team under 20 points for three straight quarters and almost under 20 in the fourth ... that's great intensity and toughness," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We're playing good basketball right now, no question the last three or four games have been some of our best all year."

The Suns missed their first seven shots from the floor and quickly fell behind 10-2 before finding their footing with a 9-2 run. However, the Thunder closed out the first quarter with an 8-0 run. A trio of 3-point bombs from Sefolosha from the same corner -- the last one to open the second quarter -- gave Oklahoma City 11 straight points and a 30-16 lead.

The second quarter was more of the same. The Suns whittled a double-digit lead to a manageable margin, only to watch the Thunder zoom away just before the half.

Phoenix cut the 14-point deficit to 35-32 on a Tucker layup with 4:12 left. But Sefolosha followed a Westbrook dunk with another 3-pointer to begin the huge run. Westbrook capped it with a 27-foot bomb to beat the halftime horn, and Oklahoma City had a 51-34 lead.

NOTES: Martin had 16 points in Friday's win over the Suns in Oklahoma City, but Brooks saw the illness as an opportunity. "Everybody is going to have to step up. (Martin's) been a big part of our success, coming off the bench and giving us some scoring and leadership. (DeAndre) Liggins is going to have an opportunity, Thabo (Sefolosha) might play more minutes. Who knows? We have a few guys who can step in and do the job." ... Goran Dragic led the Suns in points (14.3), assists (6.4), steals (1.41) and free-throw attempts (199) entering Sunday's game. The only other player to lead his team in all those categories is LeBron James. Dragic had six points, four rebounds and four assists against the Thunder. ... How times have changed. The Suns beat the Thunder nine straight times from 2007-09, a span during which the Suns averaged 50.5 wins and the Thunder 21.5.
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