|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CTNaN:� , November 12, 2018
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Attendance: 18,203
Thunder look to attack basket vs. slumping Suns
Phoenix Suns at Oklahoma City Thunder
- The Suns have dropped three straight and have lost 11 of their last 12 games. Phoenix has gone 0-5 on the road to open the season -- this is the franchise's longest road losing streak to open a season since the 1996-97 Suns dropped eight in a row, finally winning against the Kings on November 29.
- The Thunder lost to the Mavericks, 111-96, snapping a seven-game win streak. Oklahoma City has been held under 100 points in three straight games -- the team was held under 100 points in three or more consecutive games only once in each of last two seasons.
- Oklahoma City has won 14 straight games against Phoenix at home, tied for the team's longest home win streak over any opponent since moving from Seattle prior to the 2008-09 season. The Thunder currently have an active 14-game streak against the Jazz and also beat the Kings 14 straight times.
- Phoenix's players age 22 and younger average 85.8 combined points, assists and rebounds, ahead of the second place Dallas Mavericks at 58.4. Oklahoma City ranks 26th in that category, getting just 14.0 per game from this group of players.
- Dennis Schroder went 8-for-21 from the field (38.1 percent) in Oklahoma City's loss at Dallas. Schroder is shooting 51.0 percent in wins compared to 32.1 percent in losses, and the Thunder have gone 7-1 when he shoots 40.0 percent or better while going 0-4 when he does not reach that mark.
- T.J. Warren is shooting 47.5 percent from three, connecting on 19 of his 40 attempts this season after going 20-for-90 (22.2 percent) last season. Warren's +25.3 percent improvement ranks as the largest in the NBA this season (min 40 total 3PA each season).
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Even without Russell Westbrook on the floor for a big chunk of the early part of the season, the Oklahoma City Thunder have found ways to be successful offensively -- usually by attacking the basket.
That went away for a period of Saturday's 111-96 loss to Dallas and a day later, Thunder coach Billy Donovan emphasized offensive aggressiveness with his team.
"You've got to put some pressure at the basket," Donovan told reporters. "If you're not putting any pressure at the basket, I think it's really difficult to have a good offensive night because there's no threat to go to the rim -- everybody's just kind of spread out, staying at home."
Oklahoma City isn't likely to have Westbrook back Monday when it hosts the Phoenix Suns at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Westbrook was listed as being out for the game, which would be his fourth consecutive game out since suffering a sprained left ankle late in the Nov. 5 win over New Orleans.
The emphasis on attacking is especially important for the Thunder, who at 28.8 percent are last in the league in three-point shooting.
Without Westbrook, the Thunder have had to lean heavily on backup point guards Dennis Schroder and Raymond Felton to generate offense, with mixed results.
Schroder scored 19 points but was just 8 of 21 from the floor with three assists against the Mavericks while Felton was just 3 of 12 for seven points.
"Sometimes the ball just doesn't fall for you," Felton said.
The Suns are trying to pick up their first road win after dropping the season's first five, including one in Oklahoma City on Oct. 28.
Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov wants more aggressiveness out of the first overall pick in last summer's draft, center Deandre Ayton.
"It's a challenge, but the challenge should give him confidence in a way he should become aggressive and try to execute game play," Kokoskov told reporters Sunday, referencing Saturday night's loss at New Orleans and Anthony Davis.
"I think he was too passive to start the game. It's a psychological moment, which is understandable. He's a rookie playing against an All-Star, but I think he's better than that in terms of being aggressive, being himself and just playing."
While Ayton won't have a player quite Davis' caliber to worry about Monday, Oklahoma City's Steven Adams can put pressure on opposing centers.
Ayton, who is averaging 16.1 points and 10.9 rebounds, said he didn't quite agree with Kokoskov's assessment.
"I don't know what he means by that," Ayton said. "To me, I'm all about a rhythm. I'm a rhythm-type of player. I don't hunt shots down. That's not my play style. My play style is teammates know where I want the ball and really feeling out the game."
One way or another, the Suns need to find a way to generate more offense. Phoenix, which has lost three straight games, is last in the NBA in offensive rating, scoring 100.1 points per 100 possessions. Phoenix hasn't been much better one defense, allowing 113 points per 100 possessions.
Updated November 11, 2018