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Shorthanded Thunder blown out by Suns, 132-101

Considering the circumstances leading into Wednesday’s game, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 132-101 loss to the Phoenix Suns should not be that surprising.

When the Thunder ruled Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams out against the Phoenix Suns prior to Tuesday’s win over the Golden State Warriors, it felt like it laid the groundwork for a scheduled loss.

The Thunder — playing on the second night of a back-to-back — were without two of their four starters including their All-Star guard. Meanwhile the Suns, who entered the game on a three-game winning streak, enjoyed two days off prior to this game.

After slipping in pregame warmups, Kevin Durant’s late scratch from making his Suns home debut creaked the door open a little bit for the Thunder on a potential upset win but that door was quickly shut by KD’s co-star.

Devin Booker scored 44 points on 17-of-23 shooting and 6-of-10 shooting from 3. By half, Booker had 30 points. Without Durant, Booker dominated.

“It was just one of those nights,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said.

To OKC’s credit, it held its own in the first half, trailing by just eight points following the first two quarters. After trailing by 13 points following the first quarter, a 31-26 second-quarter advantage helped the Thunder close the gap.

“I thought we did a great job after the start of the game giving ourselves a chance,” Daigneault said. “… Just couldn’t get a handle on it. Obviously, Booker was great tonight. Their offense was cooking. We didn’t do a great enough job offensively to keep pace with them.”

Lindy Waters III’s career half made up for Gilgeous-Alexander’s absence as he scored 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting from 3.

“Just trying to play fast. Play Thunder basketball and let it fly,” Waters III said about his hot night from 3.

But once the scoring dried up in the second half, the Suns began to pull away and a 44-point third quarter helped them build a 24-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Even without Durant, the Suns saw a huge basket as they shot 49-of-94 (52.1%) from the field and 20-of-43 (46.5%) from 3.

While it’s a downer for Suns fans that Durant’s anticipated home debut was delayed even further, they left the arena happy with an easy-going win against an injury-depleted and fatigued Thunder squad.

Other contributors for the Suns include Chris Paul, who finished with 18 points and nine assists. Off the bench, Terrence Ross added 24 points and went 6-of-10 from 3. Deandre Ayton had 12 points and eight rebounds.

Meanwhile, it was a rough shooting night for the Thunder as they shot 33-of-88 (37.5%) from the field and went 15-of-43 (34.9%) from 3. The Thunder turned the ball over 16 times, a high number especially considering their low 22 team assists.

Let’s take a look at Thunder player grades.

Lindy Waters III: A

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The lone bright spot in this 31-point loss, Lindy Waters III made Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s absence minimally felt in the first half as he scored 21 points on 6-of-8 shooting from 3.

The majority of his buckets came in the second quarter, where he scored 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3 in 10 minutes.

Waters III’s previous season high was 12 points. He broke that in eight minutes tonight.

“We’ve seen Lindy do this in the G League but not in an NBA game yet where he just really gets it going like that,” Daigneault said.

The second half was a different story for Waters III though, as the outside shooting magic ran out as he scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting.

Overall, Waters III finished with 23 points on 7-of-14 shooting and went 6-of-12 from 3 in 34 minutes off the bench.

Tre Mann: B-

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Playing through a struggling sophomore season, this game provided a rare positive night for Tre Mann as he scored at least 12 points for the first time since Feb. 6.

In 28 minutes off the bench, Mann finished with 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting and four assists. An impressive outing for someone who logged in two consecutive DNPs prior.

Without Gilgeous-Alexander or Jalen Williams, plenty of minutes and shots were up for grabs and Mann was one of the beneficiaries.

Josh Giddey: D

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It was a tough night for Josh Giddey, who struggled to step up in Gilgeous-Alexander’s absence.

In 23 minutes, Giddey finished with 10 points on a poor 3-of-12 shooting, seven rebounds and five assists. A stark contrast to his awesome performance 24 hours prior.

After being held scoreless in the first half, Giddey scored all 10 of his points in the third quarter as he shot 3-of-5. Due to the lopsided score, Giddey sold out the entire fourth quarter.

Lu Dort: F

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Just like Giddey, Lu Dort struggled in Gilgeous-Alexander’s absence too. In 20 minutes, Dort finished with seven points on 2-of-9 shooting and went 1-of-5 from 3.

Even with Dort on his grill, Booker was unconscious as he finished with 44 points on 17-of-23 shooting and scored 30 of those points in the first half.

“I think a lot of them are really tough. That’s why he’s a great player,” Daigneault said about Booker. “That’s why they’re a great team. They got guys who make those tough ones.”

Also just like Giddey, Dort did not make an appearance in the fourth quarter due to the scoreboard.


Story originally appeared on Thunder Wire