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News » Suns-Thunder Preview 2008-12-29

Suns-Thunder Preview 2008-12-29

Suns-Thunder Preview 2008-12-29
The Phoenix Suns suffered a gut-wrenching loss in their latest game, watching a buzzer-beating 3-pointer wipe out what would have been an impressive victory.

A trip to Oklahoma City should bring back a more pleasant memory.

The Suns will look to get over their last-second Christmas loss on Monday night when they visit the Thunder, who blew a big fourth-quarter lead in their first meeting with Phoenix.

Phoenix (16-12) had won three of four games and five of seven heading into a matchup with Western Conference nemesis San Antonio on Christmas. After Grant Hill gave the Suns a 90-88 lead, it looked like they'd get a measure of revenge for being ousted by the Spurs in the first round of the playoffs last season, but San Antonio had one more chance.

Following a timeout, Tony Parker drove into the lane and kicked the ball to Roger Mason, who knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to hand Phoenix a 91-90 loss.

"We played good enough to win," said Amare Stoudemire, who had team highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds. "Every time we play the Spurs some type of big shot ends up happening."

Despite the loss, the Suns got another big game from Shaquille O'Neal, who's continuing to show he can still be a force in the paint. O'Neal had 23 points and 12 rebounds against Tim Duncan and San Antonio, and he's averaging 23.8 points and 9.4 rebounds in his last five games.

Phoenix didn't have O'Neal on Nov. 25, when it traveled to Oklahoma City. The aging center is occasionally sitting out when the Suns play games on back-to-back nights, so he skipped the team's first game against the Thunder (3-28).

For the first three quarters, Phoenix definitely seemed to miss O'Neal. It trailed by 12 points with under 10 minutes to play, but that's when Oklahoma City fell apart. The Suns closed the game on a 25-12 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Matt Barnes with 25 seconds left to seal a 99-98 victory.

Steve Nash sparked the comeback in that game, finishing with 20 points - 12 in the fourth - along with 15 assists and eight rebounds.

That was the 12th straight loss for the Thunder, who went on to lose twice more before snapping their lengthy skid.

Oklahoma City has lost four in a row and 12 of 13 since a win at Memphis on Nov. 29, but it's been more competitive than earlier in the season. Ten of the Thunder's first 14 losses were by more than 10 points, but just two of their last 14 have been by that much.

They lost by single digits in their latest game, but it was far from an encouraging result. In a matchup of the worst team in the East and the worst team in the West, Washington beat Oklahoma City 104-95 on Saturday.

"It's no fun having three wins, but it's important we stay together and we continue to compete for one another," interim coach Scott Brooks said.

"Not one guy in this locker room is a loser. Unfortunately, we are not getting wins like we feel like we should."

Kevin Durant continued to be the lone bright spot for the Thunder, scoring 25 points for his seventh straight game with at least that many. The No. 2 pick in last year's draft had 29 in the November loss to Phoenix.

The Thunder franchise has lost six in a row against the Suns.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 29, 2008


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