Updated Mar 7, 2014 - 8:53 am
Suns Strokes: Green engineers second-half comeback in thrilling win over Thunder
While the nation was forced to watch the 'Battle of L.A.' between the Clippers and Lakers, those inside US Airways Center were treated to a performance -- actually several performances -- that they won't soon forget.
Gerald Green scored 30 of his career-high 41 points in the second half to lead the Suns past Oklahoma City, the No. 1 team in the Western Conference, 128-122.
"It was a great win for us," Green said. "We needed this win. It's a much needed win."
The game turned in the third quarter.
Faced with their biggest deficit at 96-80 with 3:47 to play, the Suns exploded for a 21-2 run to close the period and take a 101-98 lead into the fourth quarter. Green scored 14 of the 21 points and accounted for 25 of the 40 points in the quarter. He hit six threes and finished the game with eight, establishing a new career-high.
"I thought he took great shots. Guys set him up," head coach Jeff Hornacek said. "When you're feeling it like that you just want the ball and you want it in your vicinity. You'll grab it and you'll shoot it. And that was Gerald tonight. He can do that."
The Thunder jumped on the Suns early, leading by as many as 12 during a 41-point first quarter.
Russell Westbook scored 36, a new season-high. Kevin Durant added 34. The two shot a combined 25-of-46, but together missed nine attempts in the fourth quarter as the Suns closed the game on a 12-4 run.
The win, while snapping an 11-game losing streak to the Thunder, moved the Suns to seventh place, a half-game better than Dallas, in the West.
Green's 41 points were a Suns' season-high and the highest output by a Suns player since Amar'e Stoudemire scored 44 points on March 19, 2010 vs. Utah.
Green's 25 third quarter points were the second-high total in a quarter in franchise history. He tied a franchise-record with six three-pointers in the quarter, matching Shannon Brown's mark for the most made three-pointers in a quarter.
Goran Dragic, with the game tied 118-118, accounted for six of his team's next eight points. He finished with 22 points.
Markieff Morris' 24 points marked the 11th time this season he's scored at least 23 points.
Marcus Morris' 15 points marked his fourth straight game with 10 or more points.
The Suns scored a season-high 40 third quarter points.
While they did limit the Thunder to 42.9 percent shooting in the second half, the Suns gave up 50 percent shooting for the game, marking the sixth time in seven games they have allowed their opponent to shoot 50 percent or better (52.0).
For the second time in three games, the Suns allowed an opponent season-high first quarter points. Just four days earlier the Suns gave up 37 in the first quarter to the Atlanta Hawks.
The Thunder scored 10 unanswered points to snap an 8-8 tie and take the advantage early midway through the first quarter.
The Thunder scored 18 points off of 11 Suns turnovers in the first half.
Alen Len committed five fouls in 11 minutes.
STAT OF THE GAME:
The Suns shot 52 percent from the field to improve to 15-0 this season when shooting 50 percent or better. The Suns tied their season-high with 15 three-pointers, tied season-high with 39 free throw attempts, tied season-high for second half points with 67 and finished a point shy of their season-high in scoring.
HE SAID IT:
"It's really exciting to beat one of the best teams in the league and who had a great game against us. That says something about our team," Dragic said. "We lost last game against the Clippers. We came out strong, we know that we can do that and tonight we played awesome."
The Suns beat the Thunder for the first time since December 19, 2010.
The Suns erased a 16-point deficit to comeback to win, tying the team's third-largest comeback for a victory this season.
Green extended his streak of consecutive made free throws to 29, hitting his first six attempts, before missing the first of three after he was fouled on a three-point try with 6.9 remaining in the third quarter.
Miles Plumlee missed his second straight game because of a right knee sprain. The hope is having him sit out plus the off days Friday and Saturday will give him enough time to heal in time to suit up for the team's next game on Sunday at Golden State.
Nice move prior to the game as Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia joined Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton to present the game ball to the officials. It was part of a pre-game tribute in honor of fallen detective John Hobbs and his wounded partner, Albert Casados.
The Suns hit the road, playing back-to-back games away from Phoenix. The trip begins at Golden State on Sunday, March 9. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. MST with pre-game coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The Suns suffered their worst defeat of the season in their first visit to the Bay Area, losing 115-86. They did, however, win both meetings at home, including the most recent matchup, 122-109 on February 8. In that game, Dragic scored a then-career-high 34 points. He was one of six players to finish in double figures.
Craig Grialou, Reporter
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