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Thunder rally for 102-97 win over Suns, ruining Paul's night

Al Horford had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander also scored 21 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Phoenix Suns 102-97 on Wednesday night.

Chris Paul scored a season-high 32 points in his first game against the Thunder after being traded to the Suns from Oklahoma City during the offseason. The 10-time All-Star played well during his only season with the Thunder, averaging 17.6 points and 6.7 assists.

He had one of his best games this season at Oklahoma City's expense on Wednesday. The point guard shot 12 of 21 from the field and scored 13 points during a seven-minute stretch in the fourth that accounted for a big chunk of the team's offense.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) drives as Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

But the young and improving Thunder hung close throughout the fourth and rallied in the final minutes. Lu Dort made a 3-pointer with 2 minutes left that put Oklahoma City up 96-95 and the Thunder didn't trail again.

Paul had a chance to tie the game with about 10 seconds left on a 3-pointer, but missed badly for an airball.

Phoenix played without All-Star guard Devin Booker, who missed his second straight game with a sore hamstring. The Suns have lost three straight. Jae Crowder added 17 points for Phoenix, which shot just 38% from the field.

Phoenix Suns forward Frank Kaminsky (8) and forward Abdel Nader battle for a rebound against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

Oklahoma City took advantage of some cold shooting from Phoenix — which missed 16 straight 3-pointers during a stretch — and pushed to a 59-46 lead early in the third quarter. The Suns eventually shook loose from the slump and pulled within 73-71 heading into the fourth.

The Suns jumped out to a 32-17 lead in the first quarter after getting 17 points from their bench. But the offense collapsed in the second and they scored just 10 points while missing all 11 3-point attempts. That helped the Thunder push to a 45-42 halftime lead.

TIP-INS

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) passes between Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges (25), center Deandre Ayton (22) and forward Jae Crowder (99) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

Thunder: Horford was back in the lineup after missing six straight games because of personal reasons. ... Veteran guard George Hill didn't play because of a sprained thumb.

Suns: Backup guard Cameron Payne missed didn't play because of a sore foot. ... Forwards Dario Saric and Damian Jones both missed the game because of the league's health and safety protocols but were on the bench.

WILLIAMS RETURNS

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul drives past Oklahoma City Thunder forward Luguentz Dort (5) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

Suns coach Monty Williams was on the bench after missing the past two days of practice because of personal reasons.

“I don’t like missing days,” Williams said. “It’s not part of my career over my time in the league. I haven’t missed days. So that’s always hard for me, but there’s just certain things in my life that I have to attend to. I may have to do it a few more times going forward, but I certainly appreciate the level of concern and respect for my privacy. At the right time, I’ll let everyone know what’s going on, but for now it’s a private matter.”

UP NEXT

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton passes as Oklahoma City Thunder forward Isaiah Roby, right, defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

Thunder: Starts a five-game homestand with a game against the Nets on Friday.

Suns: Host the Warriors on Thursday.

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during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker watches from the bench during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP PhotoMatt York)