Game Notes: Thunder at Nuggets
Thunder halts losing streak with win in Denver.
by Sulaiman Folarin
Coming off their two-game losing streak, the Thunder started well with a 56.5 percent shooting in the first quarter. Led by Durant’s scoring with 12 points, – 4 more points and he would have matched Denver for the quarter – Oklahoma City also forced the Nuggets to attempt some tough shots which they missed.
“It was big for us, especially after losing two in a row. I think we were putting more emphasis on losing two in a row than trying to clinch the division,” Durant said. “We are a resilient team and we want to bounce back after every loss. Tonight was a good way to do it.”
The Nuggets’ new style of sharing the ball is perfect during the regular season but would be an issue for the team when the Playoffs arrive. Tuesday’s game against Oklahoma City had some Playoff intensity, but the Nuggets need a go-to guy. The start of this game showed illustrated the point.
Even with the constant ball movement, their total assists Tuesday night did not reflect a lot as the Nuggets finished with 17 compared to the Thunder’s 16.
In what looks like a first-round post-season match-up, the Nuggets were outplayed in the first quarter. Their shooting was not impressive either. Denver’s field-goal shooting was 7-20 and it showed their decision making was questionable.
The Nuggets started off missing shots and did not get on the scoreboard until 9:52 left in the first quarter.
“We haven’t played as average as we played at times today and trying to figure out and plug in on how to get better,” George Karl said about Denver’s loss and his team’s performance. “We probably struggled tonight, more than we have in a while.”
With Oklahoma City outscoring Denver 27-16 in the first quarter, Denver had to get back into the game someway and somehow.
Towards the end of the first quarter, with 2:44 left, Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov suffered a left knee injury and an ankle sprain. He was evaluated but did not return.
“I was scared for him because it reminded me of when I hurt my MCL,” Gallinari said of Mozgov’s injury. “I don’t know how he feels, he was limping. Hopefully it is nothing too serious.”
The second quarter was a lot better with Lawson scoring 15 of his 28 points to give Denver a 10-point edge. The Nuggets cut Oklahoma’s lead down to 1 point at halftime, 48-47.
Sloppy as the first quarter was, the second was not a lot better though the tempo which they ended the first half gave Denver’s fans some signs heading into the second half.
Overall though, Denver’s free-throw shooting let them down, as they missed nine of 26 attempts.
“We missed a lot of free throws and ended up going on a big run in the third and the beginning of the fourth quarter,” Lawson said. “I think we beat ourselves. This was a very winnable game and I think we just beat ourselves tonight.”
The third quarter was a hard fought one but no player truly dominated, though Raymond Felton gave Denver seven of his 11 points in that quarter alone.
Denver finally took their first lead with 5:13 left in the third off a Nene dunk. It was extended to three as the lead changes in the game went from zero to two in that period.
The Thunder pulled away with 9:07 left in the game and never game up the lead again.
Nuggets center Timofey Mosgov left the game on an injured left knee and ankle sprain. He did not return to the game. After the game the status of his injury did not change.