Thunder rallies to 109-97 win at Phoenix
PHOENIX (AP) -- Russell Westbrook had 33 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder rallied from 20 points down to beat the Phoenix Suns 109-97 on Sunday night.
D.J. Augustin scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter for the Thunder, who snapped a four-game road skid. Steven Adams had 13 points and 16 rebounds, and Dion Waiters scored 18 points.
Oklahoma City pulled away with a dominant fourth quarter and stayed 2 1/2 games ahead of New Orleans for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Westbrook was 10 of 29 from the field and 12 of 14 from the foul line while playing 38 minutes.
Markieff Morris scored 24 points for the Suns, who dropped four games behind Oklahoma City. Rookie reserve T.J. Warren had 18 points, and Eric Bledsoe and Marcus Morris scored 15 apiece.
Westbrook shook off an early technical foul and a 2-for-9 shooting start to bring Oklahoma City back in its second game since learning star Kevin Durant needs season-ending foot surgery. Augustin, Waiters and Anthony Morrow (11) all had big buckets that turned a 79-76 deficit after three quarters into a rout.
Suns coach Jeff Hornacek made it clear before the game that it was "really a do or die moment for us to have any hope, any chance" of reaching the playoffs. As if it wasn't clear what he meant, he added: "We have to win tonight. It's as simple as that."
Markieff Morris set the tone early on for the Suns. He outscored the Thunder 16-12 in the first 8 minutes. And with Phoenix shooting 62 percent from the field and Westbrook struggling, the Suns cruised.
Then Westbrook took over, scoring Oklahoma City's final 15 points of the half on a variety of moves, including an acrobatic alley-oop dunk to help the Thunder close to 62-54 at halftime. The Thunder tied it midway through the third quarter.
Westbrook, who had nine turnovers a night earlier in a loss at Utah, heard some "MVP! MVP!" chants in the final seconds.
Thunder: Waiters started despite a sore foot that has hampered him the past four days. ... The Thunder nearly pulled a fast one on the officials when Morrow (90 percent free-throw shooter) went to the line and hit the first shot when Adams (54 percent) was fouled. The officials noted the error, wiped out Morrow's free throw and sent Adams to the line.
Suns: Brandon Knight returned after missing the past eight games with a sprained left ankle. But he was slow to get up after missing a layup late in the third quarter and didn't return. ... The Suns had 13 assists in the first quarter, but the offense eventually bogged down. Phoenix had a stretch of nine straight missed shots in the third.
WESTBROOK NEARS SUSPENSION
It took 57 seconds for Westbrook to pick up his 15th technical foul, one away from an automatic one-game suspension.
Westbrook started jawing with Marcus Morris after his foul on Kyle Singler and earned a quick whistle from referee Ron Garretson.
Four of Westbrook's technicals have come against the Suns, and he was ejected in his previous visit Dec. 31.
Thunder: Home Wednesday night vs. Dallas.
Suns: Monday night at Portland.