Thunder aim to complete season sweep of Suns

PHOENIX — Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder have had their approach with the Phoenix Suns this season.

The Suns’ present kind suggests will probably be a extra aggressive recreation when the groups meet for the fourth and remaining time this season Friday at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.

Oklahoma City (21-12) has gained the primary three in opposition to the Suns by a complete margin of 44 factors, and George has scored 87 factors and made 13 3-pointers whereas capturing 52 % from the sphere in these video games.

The Suns (9-26) enter the sport having gained 5 of their final seven video games, the newest a 122-120 extra time victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, a run of success that mainly has coincided with Devin Booker’s return from a left hamstring harm that induced him to miss six video games.

Booker didn’t play within the Dec. 14 victory over Dallas that started the run however has averaged 30.7 factors, 8.0 assists and 5.3 rebounds within the final six. He has scored 35, 33 and 38 factors through the streak, and he had 9 factors within the remaining minute of regulation in Orlando to power extra time.

“That’s Devin’s job description,” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov informed reporters. “That’s what he does for us. He is the present and future of our organization. Whatever he decides to do with this program, that’s what is going to happen.”

New Suns ahead Kelly Oubre Jr., acquired from Washington for Trevor Ariza on Dec. 18, and rookie middle Deandre Ayton even have made an influence through the run.

Oubre has averaged 14.8 factors and 3.8 rebounds and made 9 3-pointers off the bench since being added. He had 20 factors and performed a season-high 42 minutes in a 149-146 triple-overtime loss at Washington final Saturday.

Ayton has change into a extra aggressive rebounder, particularly on the offensive finish, with 34 offensive rebounds within the final seven video games.

Ayton is averaging 16.3 factors and 10.9 rebounds within the final seven video games, and he entered the Orlando recreation as the primary rookie since Blake Griffin in 2010 to have three straight video games of not less than 20 factors and 15 rebounds. He had eight factors and 12 boards in opposition to Orlando.

“Some teams just click sometimes,” Booker informed reporters after getting 35 factors, eight assists and 7 rebounds in Orlando.

“You never know when a team can click, an adjustment starts working or a new player is added like Kelly and it just clicks.”

Oklahoma City has misplaced two in a row after a four-game profitable streak, and the losses have been by two and 4 factors.

George had 28 factors and 14 rebounds in a 113-109 loss at Houston within the Thunder’s final recreation on Christmas day, and Russell Westbrook was one rebound and one help quick of a triple-double after scoring 21 factors.

Houston packed its protection inside, and the Thunder made solely 9 of 30 three-point makes an attempt whereas taking part in their third recreation in 4 days.

“The second half we didn’t shoot the ball as well,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan informed reporters after the Houston recreation.

“That’s going to happen sometimes. We’ve played a lot of games in a short period of time. Maybe a little leg-weary and the ball is just not going down.”

Despite the loss in Houston, Oklahoma City is the one staff within the Western Conference with a profitable report on the street at 9-8. The Thunder’s 6.1-point differential is the very best within the convention and fourth within the league.

Westbrook — averaging a triple-double at 20.2 factors, 10.7 rebounds and 10.2 assists — has performed in just one of the three video games in opposition to the Suns, scoring 23 factors with 9 rebounds and 7 assists within the 117-110 victory on Oct. 28.

Center Steven Adams, who missed the primary recreation the season sequence, has gained the paint within the final two, scoring 44 factors on 20-of-28 capturing with 17 rebounds.

Houston had 17 offensive rebounds and 23 second-chance factors on Christmas day, probably the most telling numbers within the recreation.

“Rotational box-outs are always the toughest ones,” Adams informed The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman. “They put you in such a troublesome bind the place you’ve to return to your man on the perimeter.

“It’s not impossible to do the rotational box-outs. It just wasn’t on point.”

Suns guard Jamal Crawford missed the Orlando recreation with knee soreness, and he’s listed as questionable for Friday’s recreation. Thunder guard Alex Abrines missed the Houston recreation as a result of of sickness and didn’t follow Thursday.

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