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Recap: Nuggets celebrate Dec. 15 early, beat Thunder at home

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The Nuggets were able to get enough defensive stops to take care of the Thunder, winning their second game in a row and picking up a nice divisional win.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets were able to take care of business and defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night, winning

Nikola Jokic picked up his fourth triple-double of the season, finishing the game with 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists, including two dunks, while helping the Nuggets offense look rejuvenated against their division rival from Oklahoma.

Dennis Schroder lead the Thunder in scoring with 22 points off the bench. Former Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari had a rough night, missing 12 of his 13 field goal attempts and scoring only seven points.

The Nuggets started the game getting some good offense, going downhill to get layups and run out to an 8-2 lead. They were able to get their first two 3-pointers, with a nice alley-oop to spot starter Jerami Grant in the middle of those possessions. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a couple buckets for the Thunder, and the Nuggets slowed down after having started 9 for their first 10 from the field. Michael Porter Jr. had a rough looking shot, hitting the side of the backboard on a corner 3-point attempt, and Mason Plumlee had a reverse put-shot kind of looking shot go in. They weren’t able to get many shots to fall with their second unit, but finished the quarter with a 27-20 lead. OKC manufactured their points from the free throw line, going 8-9 from the charity stripe in the first 12 minutes of the game.

Juancho Hernangomez checked in for MPJ to start the second quarter, and was able to get a nifty little layup to go in for his first basket. He got a little more open than he was expecting on a 3-pointer a few possessions later, and badly missed his 3-point attempt. Jamal Murray did a little bit of dancing with the ball late in the shot clock to create some space, and was able to knock in a long midrange jumper to keep the lead at double digits. He was able to take advantage of a miscommunication by the Thunder defense and get a wide open drive to the rim for an easy dunk, with SGA and Nerlens Noel not being on the same page.

Abdul Nader got the first 3-pointer of the game for the Thunder, spotting up on the perimeter as Gallinari posted up on Will Barton. Barton had picked up his third foul of the game earlier, with Chris Paul baiting him into a foul. The Nuggets offense got a little too perimeter-centric, with the guards and Jokic being comfortable with jumpers both inside and outside the arc. They stopped going downhill like they had in their first stint of the game, and it allowed the Thunder to chip away at the Nuggets lead all quarter. At the end of the second quarter, the Nuggets were ahead by a score of 52-49, but OKC had the momentum.

The third quarter started off with Chris Paul selling a “shove” from Barton and drawing a foul, but Jokic got the team back on track with a nice cut and a big dunk off a dish from Thrill. Jamal Murray was able to get into the paint for another dunk, but was called for a delay of game technical after catching the ball and tossing it to the ref. Jokic threw Adams in a Maytag, spinning around the Kiwi for an easy layup. The bucket helped get Jokic his mojo back, and the big fella started just whipping passes around the court.

The highlight of the quarter came from Murray, who was able to get out a situation where he had picked up his dribble by throwing it off the backboard and dunking it — just an incredible play by the young guard. Jokic picked up his fourth triple-double of the season, helping set up Juancho Hernangomez for a shot at the rim, picking it up in just 25 minutes. The second unit kept up the pace to end the quarter, helping Denver take a 82-68 lead into the final 12 minutes.

The Nuggets tried to ramp up their effort on defense, but the Thunder were able to get a couple quick baskets to start the fourth quarter, leading to an early timeout. Malone wound up bringing in all the starters with 8:49 left, hoping to get some better execution and close out the game early, but the Thunder just kept chipping away at the Nuggets lead. Denver was able to get into the bonus fairly early, and were able to get some points from the free throw line as a result. Gary Harris was able to get the ball to Jokic on a post-up, and the big guy had his second dunk of the game, and followed that up with a steal on Schroder that lead to a slam dunk for the Nuggets starter on the other end to give Denver an 11 point lead.

Jokic was able to splash in another 3-pointer, with a nice post move for a bucket on the next possession. The Joker and Barton worked a little two-man game, helping the wing get a nice midrange jumper that wound up being the dagger for the game. Both teams kind of coasted to the finish line after that made basket, and the Nuggets were able to pick up their tenth win at home this season.