The Oklahoma City Thunder moved past .500 for the first time this preseason by knocking off the Denver Nuggets at home, 108-101. The NBA once again failed to put this preseason game on TV, so the best we can do is discern the facts from the box score and ESPN's runny play-by-play.
Even if we couldn't watch this win against the Nuggets live, we know what the tempo and flavor was like because OKC-Denver consistently proves to be one of the best tickets in town. There is no question in my mind that if I were to encounter someone who asked me, "Why should I care about the NBA?" One of the first things I would tell them is, "Watch the Thunder play the Nuggets." (The other reasons might be, a) Heat-Bulls; and c) Chris Paul)
In tonight's game at the Chesapeake Arena, the Thunder got balanced play from a number of guys. Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, and James Harden all scored 16 points on the night, and bench players Daequan Cook and Reggie Jackson chipped in 13 and 10, respectively. Russell Westbrook led the team in assists on the night with 9 total in 26 minutes of play. OKC continued its encouraging offensive display by assisting on 25 of their 41 baskets while only turning the ball over 14 times.
Like most OKC-Denver games, this one was a back-and-forth affair where neither team could seize the momentum for long, and like many before it, the game came down to the final moments. The Thunder went up early by a dominant 1st quarter, leading by 11 after 12 minutes. However the Nuggets began to chip away at the lead, tying the game after 3 quarters. The Nuggets were led by Danilo Gallinari, who scored 26 points, which included 6 3-pointers.
The Thunder bounced back in the 4th, gradually pulling ahead late in the game on the strength of their bench play. Harden, DeAndre Liggins, and Cole Aldrich made crucial baskets that helped the team to the win.
Thunder wonder: James Harden, 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals
Thunder down under: Serge Ibaka, 16 points, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks
Thunder blunder: quibbling - Perry Jones III for only scoring 4 points in 16 minutes
Thunder plunderer: Danilo Gallinari, 26 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
Next Game: vs Chicago Bulls on Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7PM CDT