W. Bennett Berry
Westbrook had 32 in a dominating performance against the divisional rival Denver.
Serge Ibaka returned to the starting line-up tonight, and his presence was immediately felt as Oklahoma City never trailed in the game. The Thunder led 34-18 at the end of the first and expanded that lead to 20 by the half. Denver never cut the lead to less than 18 in the second half allowing Scott Brooks and the Thunder rested their starters for a majority of the fourth quarter.
The Denver Nuggets, who were led by Kosta Koufos with 16 and Javale McGee with 15, had a 6 game winning streak snapped. Following the loss the Nuggets are still 2nd in the division and 6th in the west, 8 games behind the Thunder.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Serge Ibaka, who had been out the last 2 games with a chest contusion, returned tonight. Although he was not much of a factor on the offensive end, finishing with 5 points on 2-5 shooting, he was able to grab 6 boards and 5 blocks. The Thunder were able to go 2-0 without Serge, but as tonight showed they're much better with him on the floor.
Kevin Martin ended a streak of poor shooting, and ended the night with 20 points going 8-12 from the field. The big 3 for OKC combine for 72 points of the Thunder 102 by the time they left the game. Oklahoma City has matched up well with the Nuggets over the years, going 9-2 dating back to 2011.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?
The Thunder came out on fire tonight while Denver appeared to be a little sluggish. The Nuggets may have been a little fatigued from the overtime battle with Portland last night and it showed tonight. The Thunder led by double digits from the start and never allowed Denver to put up a run to bring it close.
In addition to Denver's poor shooting, OKC forced 21 turnovers which translated into 12 more shots for the Thunder. Although this margin was slightly larger, 17, when the starters left the game. The result was 11 more made baskets for the thunder, and led their opponent in 3-pt made 9-2.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
Turnovers and points off turnovers are what won the game for the Thunder. OKC caused Denver to turn the ball over 21 times, getting 28 points off those turnovers, while only committing 14 turnovers and allowing 18 off those turnovers. Those numbers are a bit inflated from when the starters left the game, at one point OKC lead 24-8 in points off turnovers.
Denver was unable to hit from behind the arc going only 2-15, perhaps a sign that their legs were tired from last night, while OKC went 9-19 from 3.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
The rest of January is set to be a tough one for OKC. The Thunder begin a tough 6 game road trip starting with Dallas on Friday. OKC will then have a rematch against the Nuggets at Denver on Sunday before going to California to face all four teams there, before ending the month at home against the Grizzles. By the time this month is over we'll know a lot more about how tough this Thunder team is, and where they stand in the West.
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook 32 points, 4 assists.
Thunder Down Under: Kevin Martin, 16 points, 6-8 FGs.
Thunder Blunder: Jeremy Lamb, 1-5 FGs, 2 points, 1 turnover.
Thunder Plunderer: Kosta Koufos, 16 points, 9 rebounds.
Next game: @ Dallas Mavericks on Fri. Jan. 18th @ 8:30 pm
If you are looking for tickets to upcoming games, you can find Oklahoma City Thunder tickets here.