The OKC Thunder was as obnoxious as ever, curdling the OKC air with their chants for an entire minute before Russell Westbrook spoke before the crowd. Fast forward 2.5 hours and the fans would be leaving the Energy Solutions Arena with hung heads and hushed chants of enthusiasm. The Denver Nuggets would pick axe their way to a 106-101 victory over Oklahoma City.
They sprinkled 24K gold dust over the Thunder to fizzle them out.
I was anticipating to coddle myself with my humor and words as I blogged about another loss to the Thunder, but I was nicely surprised that this wasn’t the same Denver-OKC movie as I’ve seen before. Denver owned up during the stretch and came into this Thunder game with playoff mentality. This win not only allows Denver to NEARLY lock up the 6th seed spot (they need a win Thursday night or a Dallas loss) but it was a growth in the confidence scale.
No, spectators nor critics can say this “Well, Thunder played their 3rd strings.” or “It didn’t matter.”
Nope, all misplaced. Thunder wanted this win against division rivals, Denver, just as much as Denver wanted the win. Why?? They played Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the 4th quarter when they hadn’t been in the 4th quarter at all the game prior. Yes, OKC was starving for this win.
They would go home hungry as ever.
Yes, OKC’s two stars — Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook — scored. They racked up 32 and 30 points respectively, but they couldn’t handle Denver’s team concept as Denver had 7 players in double figures. Yes, 7 players.
My game ball goes to none other than Corey Brewer. He scored 10 points on 50% FG shooting, 2 steals, 1 block and most importantly had ZERO turnovers. He was aggressive, but not overly ‘jumpy’ and his size (length) was a problem for the Thunder. Ty Lawson also had a marvelous game with 25 points on 8-for-15 shooting, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. He was aggressive (that’s what we like) and seems to finally understand how great he can be.
Kenneth Faried scored his 12th double-double. He scored 13 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the field, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot. As usual, his energy, bounce, and his heart is infectious.
Despite the good the Nuggets did, they had one ENORMOUS flaw: MISSED FREE THROWS. I can never reiterate enough, missed free throws is not acceptable for a professional athlete. In this circumstance, the Nuggets went 18-for-30 from the charity stripe and lucky for them didn’t lose this one. Last year during the playoffs, this was a GLARING issue.
What Denver Did Well
- More rebounds; 42-37
- More offensive rebounds; 17-11
- Fast-break points, 21-16
- Points in the paint; 54-38
- Out-scored bench; 35-20
- 10 turnovers to OKC’s 18
“We’re playing our best basketball right now (seven wins in the last nine games) and to do this in the month of April shows our guys have a pretty big heart.” - George Karl
Denver, I’m fully prepared for some playoff basketball.