Oklahoma City Thunder Outduel Phoenix Suns in Battle of Young Stars

The Oklahoma City Thunder got the better of the Phoenix Suns Sunday night in a showdown between elite young talents. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander shredded the Suns in his team's 124-120 win, compiling 40 points, five rebounds, four assists, and one steal, and Devin Booker was even more impressive in defeat, tallying 46 points, three rebounds, and one assist.

Gilgeous-Alexander hit a solid 12 of his 24 field goal attempts, but he also relentlessly picked up fouls, sinking 16 of 19 free throws. It was his sixth 40+ point game of the season. Over 60 starts this season, he's averaged 31.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game with a career-best .625 true shooting percentage. Still only 24 years old, Gilgeous-Alexander is quickly establishing himself as the NBA's latest superstar.

Booker's Suns may have fallen short last night, but he was still probably the best player on the court, even considering Gilgeous-Alexander's excellent performance. Booker hit an exceptional 18 of his 28 field goal attempts on his way to 46 points, his most since December. It was his seventh 40+ point game of the season, and it was yet another chapter in what is proving to be a career year for three-time All-Star: his points per game (28.0) and field goal percentage (.496) are personal bests.

The Thunder and Suns remain in the hunt in a densely-packed Western Conference playoff race. At 38-33, the Suns are currently fourth in the standings, and they've yet to reveal their true potential: Kevin Durant has played a mere three games for them since being acquired at the deadline. On the other hand, the Thunder are 35-36 and eighth in the Western Conference. They don't appear to be a credible contender this season, but given Gilgeous-Alexander's ascent and an unrivalled collection of future draft assets, no team has more reason for hope.

The Thunder are back in action Tuesday when they visit the Los Angeles Clippers. Meanwhile, the Suns will travel to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: © Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports