The Denver Nuggets wrapped up a road back to back tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite some sloppy play at times, and a 16-6 free throw disparity in the favor of the Thunder, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic had outstanding nights to overshadow Thunder stars Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Steven Adams. The Nuggets complete the sweep of their division rival and secure a 115-105 victory.
The Nuggets opened the game getting scoring from Murray and Will Barton but Jerami Grant had it going from outside for OKC. As the quarter progressed there wasn’t a ton in the way of defense. Both teams seemed to get whatever they wanted at the basket and were also shooting the ball very well. Barton hit a wall and started to force things which slowed the Nuggets offense around the four minute mark. Jokic got things settled down and the offense rolling again but the Thunder were red hot from the field and that carried over to their reserves. The Nuggets finally got their defense together (or perhaps the Thunder just stopped hitting shots) as the quarter was winding down to get a 9-0 run behind Jokic. Nerlens Noel gave the Thunder a boost in the final minute but after one the Nuggets led by four.
Nice first quarter for Jamal Murray in OKC. 8 points and 4 assists. Thought he did a nice job using subtle fakes. This was a dime. pic.twitter.com/ATfjcoXo0v— Christian Clark (@cclarkhoops) March 30, 2019
The Nuggets got a nice 7-0 run to start the second quarter and extend their lead but the Thunder came back thanks to some poor turnovers by the Nuggets. Denver’s offense started to stall and they were giving up way too many offensive rebounds while the Thunder fought their way back. Still, Denver was getting enough stops and offensive boards themselves to carry their bench unit through until Jokic and Murray returned to the game. It took Joker a bit to going but he made a nice hook shot and Murray followed it with a three to push the lead back up to nine. Steven Adams was the latest Thunder player to respond with back to back buckets and then a nice back door feed to Westbrook. Just like that the Denver lead was back down to three. The half ended with some sloppy basketball and the Nuggets still leading by 5.
OKC was aggressive opening the half, Westbrook in particular. The Nuggets had enough offense to keep a slim lead but the momentum was definitely in the Thunder’s favor. George also started to find his groove, he threw down a big slam around the seven minute mark to pull OKC within one and force coach Michael Malone to take a timeout. Murray was having a fantastic night shooting and had a pair of baskets out of the timeout to lead an 8-0 run to put the Nuggets back ahead. Jokic discovered he could just push Noel around in the post and used that advantage for a couple baskets while the Nuggets pushed their lead to double digits. The Thunder were ice cold from the floor and Plumlee was getting his floater going in the lane. By the time the third quarter ended the Denver lead was up to eleven.
The Nuggets bench kept the pressure on to open the fourth, getting buckets from Malik Beasley and Plumlee. The Thunder took a timeout and regrouped to get two quick buckets. Plumlee was perfect from the field when he hit his fifth shot at the 8 minute mark and was carrying Denver’s offense early in the fourth. The Thunder weren’t going to go away easily though, and they continued to push back and keep the lead right around ten. George in particular seemed to not be willing to let this one go without a fight. Murray kept the offense going on the Nuggets end though, knocking down what seemed like his tenth turn around fade away with a hand in his face. With about four minutes to go the Nuggets held an eight point lead and Barton was finding his stroke from three point range. The Thunder just would not go away though, Westbrook sprinted past the entire Denver D for a ferocious slam to pull within six with three minutes to go. Westbrook and Jokic were dueling down the stretch and trading buckets which kept the Nuggets in front. Murray hit a ridiculous three, Millsap followed it up with a three of his own and it was all over but garbage time. Nuggets win 115-105.