The Phoenix Suns ended their latest homestand on a down note on Friday night, losing to the Oklahoma Thunder 111-107 despite a heroic scoring effort by Vince Carter. The erstwhile all-star, who was traded to Phoenix by the Orlando Magic, led the stats with 33 points and played some stellar basketball through the first three quarters.
Too bad it all fell apart in the fourth quarter, both for Carter and the Suns, allowing the Thunder to escape US Airways Center with a win. For most of the game, however, it looked like Planet Orange was going to defeat one of the Western Conference's hottest teams as the 6-foot-6 shooting guard started the game by catching fire, giving Phoenix a 10-point lead in the first five minutes by landing bucket after bucket.
Carter stayed hot for most of the game, including going 6-of-12 from the three-point line, and helped give his team a seven-point lead going into the final period where it all went to hell thanks in part to some bad calls by the officials.
Carter's last big contribution to the game came when he hit a 24-foot trey from a Marcin Gortat assist with 5:28 on the clock and 97-93 Suns lead on the scoreboard. His guns sadly went silent from that point on, missing the first of many jumpshots and producing nothing but bricks. Grant Hill was then whistled for a screwy shooting foul against Kevin Durant after he wasn't even close to touching the Oklahoma forward, protesting said fact with Steve Nash. Both Phoenix players consequently received technicals, permitting Durant to knot the score at 97 apiece with free throws.
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It was all Oklahoma from then on out, as the Thunder went on a 10-3 run as Durant (24 points) and Russell Westbrook (19 points) hammered the nails into Phoenix's coffin with numerous jumpers and free throws in the remaining minutes.
The Suns are now firmly in the 10th spot in the Western Conference with a 23-25 record as they head to Northern California for the first of consecutive two games with the Golden State Warriors (22-27) later tonight. They'll then return to the Valley on Thursday for a return match against the Bay Area basketball squad at US Airways Center. Here's hoping that Planet Orange can somehow nab back-to-back wins against the resurgent Warriors (who are on a three-game win streak thanks to improved defense) to finally attain a .500 record.
Tip-off for tonight's game is at 8:30 p.m. TV: KUTP My45. Radio: KTAR 620-AM. For more information, visit www.suns.com.