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Recap: Denver Nuggets gut out sloppy performance, steal 98-95 win from Oklahoma City Thunder

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It wasn’t pretty but we’ll take it

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

The Denver Nuggets were coming off their biggest blowout victory of the season and looking to follow it up with another big win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Things didn’t exactly go to plan as the Nuggets played awful for two and a half quarters. However, the Thunder couldn’t hold off a Denver rally in the back end of the game. Nikola Jokic, Michael Porter Jr and Jamal Murray gutted out a win in a game that had no business winning. Nuggets steal one, 98-95.

The Nuggets started out the game slow. They were unable to get a basket until nearly two minutes passed. That allowed the Thunder to get an early lead behind Al Horford and a 6-0 run to open the game. Jokic eventually took control of the offense, first asserting himself before setting up his teammates for multiple buckets. Halfway through the quarter the Thunder still held the lead but the offense on both sides died out. It was pretty sloppy throughout the end of the quarter. Each team got a bucket here or bucket there but there was not a lot of good basketball. To close out the quarter the Thunder put on a run again with the Nuggets turning the ball over and not boxing out on defense. After one Denver trailed by a dozen.

The bench unit continued to struggle to open the second quarter. There wasn’t much in the way of a plan on offense, either just guys going one on four (Will Barton) or bricking threes (everyone else). Murray and Jokic checked back in with eight minutes to go in the half and Denver trailing by fourteen. Jokic hit a crazy buzzer beating Sombor Shuffle but otherwise it was still all Thunder. OKC rattled off another 8-0 run behind the Denver settling for jump shots and committing stupid turnovers to put the lead at seventeen. Denver just couldn’t quit shooting themselves in the foot. With the quarter winding down Jokic seemed to get tired of it and decided to take things into his own hands. He scored eleven of the Nuggets final thirteen points in the half and got them within thirteen by the time the buzzer sounded.

The Nuggets had some success on offense to start the second half but the defense was atrocious. Murray got a couple buckets to keep the Thunder lead from growing but Denver didn’t gain any ground either. Porter Jr was the next Nugget to get his offense going and that finally started to turn the tide. He sparked a 13-4 run with the assist (quite literally) from Jokic. He got a little too in love with the jump shot as the quarter progressed but did have an incredible block. Jokic went cold from the field as well so the Thunder increased their lead back to double digits. Right at the end of the quarter Hamidou Diallo inexplicably tried to block a Murray heave at the buzzer and was called for goaltending which dropped the Thunder lead to nine.

The bench and Murray opened the fourth and couldn’t close the lead. JaMychal Green in particular was struggling and had been all night. They also struggled to secure defensive rebounds. The Thunder went cold though while Monte Morris found a little rhythm. He sparked a 7-0 run to get Denver within two and force an OKC timeout. Shortly after that Murray turned his ankle on a drive. It looked really bad but somehow he stayed in the game however the offense stalled once again. The Nuggets got as close as two points before Oklahoma pushed it back to eight. Denver wasn’t done though. Murray gutted it out and Barton chipped in to pull back within three with just under three minutes to go. The Nuggets chiseled away with the Thunder offense completely out of sync. Finally they took the lead on a Jokic floater with just over a minute to go. After another Thunder turnover Barton buried a huge three which turned out to be the dagger. Nuggets win 98-95.