After losing three of their last four games, the Denver Nuggets were looking to start their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder hot, and they did just that as they jumped out to a 13-5 lead in the first three minutes of the game. Over the next few minutes, the two sides traded buckets, but Denver started to go on a run. Denver scored eight unanswered over a two-minute stretch, and their lead had ballooned to 24-10. Nikola Jokic was up to 14 points through seven minutes as the team was leading 31-14. With three minutes remaining in the quarter, Denver was leading 33-16 despite playing without seven players, including two starters. Denver’s lead got as large as 19 points in the final minutes of the quarter, and they were heading into the second leading 38-21.

The skeleton crew second unit started the second trading baskets, and we were seeing some guys that don’t usually get minutes put their skills on display. Jack White, Vlatko Cančar and Zeke Nnaji were all playing extended minutes and working hard on both ends to maintain the team’s large lead. By the time Aaron Gordon re-entered the game with 8:45 to go in the second quarter, the lead was 44-27 in favor of Denver. Jokic and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope re-entered the game, and the lead continued to hold at 17 points. The two sides traded buckets before Michael Malone called a timeout to re-focus his team. Over the next few minutes, Denver’s starting unit was slowly letting it slip away. After leading by 17, that lead had fallen to nine with four minutes remaining in the half. OKC had crawled to within seven with 2:30 remaining, and the team was just continuing to bleed points. Bruce Brown ended a five-minute streak without a field goal for the team with just under 1:00 remaining in the quarter. OKC had gotten within three, but Jokic scraped out a few late buckets to give the Nuggets a 69-63 lead into the half.

The Thunder’s hot streak continued to start the second half, and they tied the game up at 72 less than three minutes into the third before taking a 3-point lead on their next position for their first lead of the night. The Thunder were making an effort to prevent Jokic from beating them, and no one else on the Nuggets was making them pay for it. They were 2-of-11 in the quarter, and the Thunder were leading 80-74 with 5:39 to go in the quarter. As the quarter wore on, it looked like two completely different teams were on the floor. Denver looked completely gassed, and the Thunder looked like they were only getting stronger. Denver was trailing by 11 with 2:00 remaining in the quarter when the team’s second unit came back into the game. Denver continued to miss essentially every shot they put up, and they scored just 15 points in the quarter as they were trailing 97-84 heading into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter started where the third left off with Denver turning the ball over while Josh Giddey got a layup at the rim on the other end. The Nuggets proceeded to go on an 11-0 run over the next few minutes, and they had cut the lead to four with 9:02 to go in the game. Denver went two minutes without scoring to fall behind by eight again. Isaiah Joe led by nine following some back-and-forth scoring, but Denver was hanging around. The two sides were trading buckets back and forth before Gordon got Denver within one with a little under 4:00 to go in the game. Gordon was white hot, as he had eight points on three possessions to continue matching the scoring from OKC. The only problem was the Thunder were scoring repeatedly on the other end. Aleksej Pokusevski went 1-of-2 at the line with a chance to take a 3-point lead for the Thunder. Gordon tied the game at 120 with 47.3 remaining on a gorgeous feed from Jokic under the rim. Both teams had a chance to take the lead on their final possessions, but neither could do it which sent this game to overtime tied at 120.

Denver started overtime with some quick points to lead by five, but the offense was still dealing with some warts. Two offensive rebounds gave Denver a 40-second possession that ultimately ended in a five-point lead and a Thunder timeout with 1:29 remaining in the game. Jokic picked up his fourth foul with a little over a minute remaining, and the Thunder were clawing to stay in the game. The Thunder saved a ball from going out of bounds off of a jump ball, and they drilled a 3-pointer to get within two with 36 seconds to go. Following a long and patient possession, Brown got the ball and drove to the rim for the floater, and Denver’s lead was back up to four. Jokic hit a pair of free throws late to make the lead five, and the Nuggets claw back from 13 points to win 131-126.

Stat Leaders

Points: Nikola Jokic – 39

Assists: Bruce Brown – 10

Rebounds: Brown – 13

Player of the Game: Nikola Jokic – 39 points, 9 assists, 10 rebounds, 11-of-15 field goal, 1-of-3 3-point, 16-of-18 free throw