Gary Harris got open for the final shot of the game, burying a 3-pointer from the wing for the game-winning shot to cap a thrilling 127-124 victory at home over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Jokic picked up his third triple double of the season, finishing with 29 points, 14 assists, and 13 rebounds, including a clutch offensive rebound with seven seconds remaining.
Russell Westbrook nearly had another triple double as well, with 20 points, 21 assists, and nine rebounds, almost leading his team back from a 20-point deficit. Paul George was incredible, scoring 43 points on 26 shots, including a 3-pointer with one second left.
Gary Harris opened the scoring with a 3-pointer following a steal on Russell Westbrook. They opened by making three of their first four 3-point attempts, scoring 15 points in the first four minutes. The offense was popping! and it lead to two timeouts by the Thunder, with the second coming after a Nikola Jokic left-handed jam.
Jokic picked up his fifth assist of the game in the first quarter, with Harris hitting him on the roll and Jokic finding Torrey Craig on a cut that he finished with two hands. Westbrook helped the Thunder keep pace though, racking up eight assists in the first 12 minutes. The Nuggets shot nearly 60 percent from the floor, getting easy shots by targeting Westbrook on defense possession after possession.
The Nuggets opened the second quarter with a Mudiay-Craig-Barton-Lyles-Faried lineup, and the rim tightened up a bit as both teams went to their reserves. Mudiay had a good stretch, taking advantage of the rotund Raymond Felton’s inability to move his feet on defense. He was able to connect with Kenneth Faried for a couple sweet dunks, with the Manimal bringing energy in front of the homecourt fans. Torrey Craig had a sweet chasedown block on Westbrook, flying in high through a crowd to swat away the layup attempt.
The starters began matriculating their way back onto the court with the Nuggets up 54-41, and they just kept their foot on the gas to take a 17 point lead. Jamal Murray made a play that’ll end up on the season highlight reel, crossing over Steven Adams and sending the Kiwi to the floor.
Jamal Murray just destroyed Steven Adams #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/ydb1SDlVex— Dan (@minutemandan) February 2, 2018
To be honest, I kind of blacked out after Murray’s highlight, and I regained consciousness with Denver up 70-55 with about 90 seconds remaining. Their offense was just clicking with their small ball lineup, and not even a Wilson Chandler airball could slow them down. They went into halftime with a 72-57 lead, a truly wonderful first half.
The Thunder got some stops on defense to start the second half, prompting Malone to call timeout and lay into his team. Jokic helped end it by taking an opportunity to look to the basket, and flipped in a jumper to push the lead back to 14. The Nuggets guards continued to take advantage of the Thunder’s guards inability to contain them on defense, slicing to the rim for easy dunks and layups.
The Nuggets were the first team to hit 100 points, courtesy of Jokic at the free throw line, and the reserves began checking into the game for the Nuggets. Paul George had his shot blocked by Harris, then stone-walled Trey Lyles for a steal in the back court, feeding Westbrook for an easy two points. He looked really comfortable shooting at Pepsi Center - maybe he should consider signing here in the offseason, you know?
Faried and Craig combined for a sweet block in the first minute of the fourth, but the reserves couldn’t keep the lead close to 20, letting OKC go on a short run that prompted a timeout by Malone. Ray Felton cut the lead to ten with nine minutes after a floater in the lane, and the Nuggets offense continued to malfunction. While Denver struggled to score, they were able to focus on defense, keeping Oklahoma City from getting too close.
Paul George started to take over, plowing through Jokic for two points, and then denying Murray on defense. Westbrook hit a 3-pointer, and the Nuggets lead was down to five points with three minutes remaining. Jamal Murray hit a huge jumper, giving the Nuggets a glimmer of a hope against the All-Star talent across from them. After an offensive foul by both teams, Murray took Adams to the rim for another bucket, but Westbrook answered with another three.
The precocious guard wouldn’t be denied, getting to the rim again, but George threw a fireball in from distance to cut the lead to three with just over a minute remaining. George scored again, but Murray wouldn’t quit, pulling them ahead by three again with 31 seconds left after Jerami Grant goaltended his shot attempt. Westbrook knifed into the lane for a layup after a timeout, drawing the score to 122-121 Nuggets.
Malone called timeout, and the play wound up with Murray taking a jumper, which he missed but Jokic grabbed the offensive rebound where he made both of his free throws.
The Nuggets decided to NOT foul up by three points, and Paul George hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with one second left. The Nuggets ran a nifty after timeout play, setting a double screen for Gary Harris, who caught a cross-court pass from Jokic and buried his shot attempt for the no doubt, game-winning basket.
What a game! What a finish! If you don’t love this, you don’t love NBA basketball. Best game of the season! Let’s see some victory GIFs!
What an ending #MileHighBasketball pic.twitter.com/oxkqElEwbC— Dan (@minutemandan) February 2, 2018