When the Nuggets went on their big eastern road trip a few weeks ago, we pointed to that one as being a huge test. Well, how about this week (thus far)? A win in L.A. versus the Lakers, a win in Dallas on the second of a back-to-back and the two losses to the Thunder. A 2-2 week so far - not to shabby, but Denver loses tonight 104-89 for the second time this week to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Company.
We're going to break this one down quarter by quarter. Stay tuned for some additional Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets coverage - we got something special on the way.
- I can't wait until Green Week is over, the green headbands are still around but the green shoes are gone from the starting lineup of the Nuggets. Oh, and Nene just had a nice dunk 2-0 Denver. Wow, and a great block on the other end. Nene is very active early - this is a good thing.
- The first timeout (after Nene grabs a loose ball) shows George Karl and Danilo Gallinari having a very engaged discussion on what looks like how to guard Kevin Durant. Wilson Chander was paying attention along with Nene, while Kenyon Martin was talking with Arron Afflalo about his nice dunk just moment before. At the 7:53 mark Russell Westbrook hits the Thunder's first shot so the crowd can sit, 8-2 Nuggets.
- First TV timeout and it's 10-6 Nuggets. This game has started out about the complete opposite to the one in Denver Tuesday night. It's Oklahoma City getting their shots blocked and missing easy ones. The Nuggets are not taking advantage at the other end the way they should be though, missing plenty of shots of their own (5-14, 35% and OKC is 3-11, 27%).
Quarter recap: 17-17. I'm currently reading The Jordan Rules and I didn't quite recall how much Chicago depended on just two scorers. They had more guys that could score, but Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were gunners. OKC really runs off two scorers as well with Kurant and Westbrook - they combined for 16 of OKC's 17 points with Serge Ibaka hitting a free throw after a KD runner (foul while another player is shooting results in one foul shot). Denver had great effort, but cold shooting hurt the Nuggets. Can Denver find their shooting touch? If not they better stick to the offensive boards.
Key players: Nene in 9 minutes puts up 6 points, 5 rebounds (3 offensive), 1 block and set the tone for start of this game for Denver with his hustle. Westbrook had 8 points and 2 assists - he broke the scoring open for OKC with 6 straight points and got the Thunder offense moving a little quicker after a slow start.
- Daequan Cook checks in to start the second and hits two three pointers, 22-19 Thunder. Playing the role of Craig Hodges from that 1990-91 Bulls squad? Ok, I'll stop with those forced comparisons.
- This Nuggets team can really get into jump shot mode (I guess all teams can). Raymond Felton and Ty Lawson are effective going towards the rim and they set the tone for the rest of the team. Felton hits a couple freebies after charging the lane, 24-21 Thunder. Keep going to the rim Nuggets!
- It's 28-21 with Lawson, Felton, J.R. Smith, Al Harrington and Nene in the game. With Chris Andersen out it looks like Big Al (ha) will be the backup power forward tonight. Thus far, it's not working as Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed combine for a couple offensive boards over him for a put-back lay in by Mohammed. The great thing about Timofey Mozgov in that Lakers game was how he was just a tree out there. Moz's 7'1'' frame makes him effective. Karl comes back with the same lineup out of the timeout ...
- The Thunder have assumed control of this game with their style of play. It's 37-23 OKC and for some reason the refs think the Lakers are playing the Nuggets. Nene gets a foul call and a lane violation call on OKC, the refs make up for it by giving OKC a defensive three-seconds call. 38-25 OKC with just over 5:20 to play.
Quarter recap: 31-25 OKC and 48-42 Thunder at the half. The Thunder bench came in and poured it on Denver's bench to the tune of 20-13. If not for Felton's late push in the quarter things would have been much worse for the bench scoring and for the game. Denver is really missing AAA, Birdman and even Mozgov. Not having a bench big man to secure rebounds and protect the paint is a key element and Afflalo's defense and outside shooting is needed (even AAA's midrange game is missed).
Key players: Every player in white that stepped on the floor. The Thunder were up by as much as 15 points at one time, but the Nuggets fought back. Once K-Mart checked back in at the 4:52 mark (Nuggets down 40-26), the Nuggets went on a 16-8 run. Felton scored 10 points in the first half and 8 points in the final three minutes. Should be a good second half.
- At the 9:20 mark Perkins picks up his fourth foul and suddenly the refs are thinking it's the Thunder vs. the Lakers out there as the Nuggets are getting some calls. Durant hits a three and it's 53-45 OK City, Kevin is skinny. I drink a milk shake and my butt giggles for a week!
- With 4:13 left in Dallas it's the Clippers up 46-39, the Mavs have made a run after being down close to 15 points or so early in that one.
- The 7:04 mark, the worst offensive foul of the season is called on Lawson as he breaks to the hoop and comes in contact with Durant. On the other end Westbrook pretends he's injured, stays in the game and then goes coast-to-coast for a lay-up. IT's 58-47 Thunder and Denver continues to play in a fog. Is it the Thunder or mental mistakes for Denver? A little from column A and a little from column B folks.
- This quarter is taking forever - I got chicken in the oven that I put in at the start of the third, will it be done before we start the fourth? Bagock!
Quarter recap: 27-22 Thunder - 75-64 OKC. Durant gets his shot off so easily. Like Gallo and Dirk, being a tall guy on the perimeter allows those guys to shoot over any defender or drive around them if need be. That quarter was filled with stoppage, foul shots and was quite boring. A boring quarter means the Nuggets didn't get into their share the ball, push the tempo, and use the defense to set up the offense style - no wonder the OK City squad won the quarter. Denver really missing a big man off the bench - the Thunder currently have 15 offensive boards!
Key players: Kevin Durant - he got his shot going and drew the Nuggets into a couple bad fouls as he shot three-pointers. K-Mart once again showed that the Nuggets starters can outplay the Thunder starters, but the Nuggets need some production from the bench guys.
- At the 10:11 mark Al Harrington commits a turnover as he grabs an offensive board, but then travels. Poor Al, it seems like for every good play he makes, there is a bad one or two to follow. Harrington couldn't be a better teammate from the look of things, but he's having a rough first season in Denver - Big Al just hits a layup to make it 79-67 and then commits a foul on the other end ...
- Harrington commits another foul at the 9:24 mark ... 80-67 Thunder. Harrington fouls out at the 9:01 mark. Wow.
- It's 85-67 Thunder - they are kicking the Nuggets' collective butts tonight (again). Karl claims he was misquoted with his talk of wanting to play that Dallas lineup from the other night. Does this game change anyone's mind or are the missing Nuggets (AAA and Bird) going to make a difference?
- The Nuggets just went on a big run and the Thunder lead is once again down to just 9 points (87-78). When the Nuggets amp up the tempo good things happen. And Nene is finally attacking above the rim.
- 5:03 mark - Perkins comes down after fouling Nene and puts the Brazilian in a headlock. Nene shoves Perkins and a double-technical is called. Scott Hastings calls the refs "cowards" for not just giving the tech to Perkins. The OKC crowd isn't happy, but replay clearly shows Perkins' arm wrapping around Nene's neck AFTER he came down on him. Perkins still trying to do his best Kevin Garnett impersonation.
- Durant is the first player I've seen in a long time get that pumped up after a running floater And-1 - no dunk or crazy shot even.
Quarter recap: 29-25 Thunder and 104-89 OKC final. After a little run, the Nuggets ran out of gas. Coming back from 16 points back was just too much as Denver never got it back under 9 points. Denver went through the motions a bit after the Thunder re-gained control and the Thunder and their fans did some celebrating as they will become the new Northwest Division champs.
Key players: Russell Westbrook had a couple nice steals, Durant scored when needed and Nick Collison continued to be a pest on the boards.
Game recap: The Nuggets finished the season 1-3 vs. the Thunder. The post-trade teams faced each other twice this week and Denver went 0-2 as we all know. Oklahoma City did a great job making the Nuggets look like an average team. The Nuggets played at the Thunder's pace for much of the two games and did so for the majority of tonight's game.
When Felton and Lawson were pushing the pace, when the defense was swarming and when the boys in blue were dunking the ball they were cutting the Thunder leads and reminding the folks watching why there was a buzz around this team after the big Lakers win. Karl has to somehow convince Lawson to pick up the pace as tonight he let Westbrook play his game.
Views you can use:
- The Nuggets gave a good effort tonight. Nothing to me suggested they held back against the Thunder. Oklahoma City just outplayed the Nuggets tonight.
- You ready for some ugly? Lawson (2-4), Wilson Chandler (1-10), Gallo (3-10) and J.R. (1-6) combined to go 7-30 from the field (23.3%). There is no way the Nuggets can win a game with those four guys being as cold as ice - with that the only thing they are willing to sacrifice is a win.
- The Nuggets did a nice job on the offensive glass collecting 17 offensive boards.
- The Nuggets did a lousy job on the defensive glass. Denver collected 40 defensive rebounds, but gave up 19 offensive boards - meaning that 47.5% of the time a shot was missed on Denver's end, the Thunder got their grubby hands on the ball. Ouch.
- Gallo had a bounce back night from the charity stripe going 10-11 on the night.
- Box Score
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