What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Wow, we actually closed that one out! The first half was riddled with the problems the Thunder saw against Atlanta and Houston. They were getting exploited far too easily, looking lackadaisical at times, and forcing their style of play. Tonight, we saw a Thunder team that was able to adjust on the fly, while also relying on some great talent when they needed it most.
What was tonight's turning point?
When the Thunder slowed down the pace in the third quarter and started hitting their threes, you could finally see confidence in their eyes. Sefolosha hit a three from the wing with 8:45 to go to put the Thunder up by 7, and from there the Nuggets couldn't stop morale-killing dunks by Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant. Once Westbrook hit a wild pull up three,you could tell the Thunder had a definite advantage, and they carried it from there.
What was, overall, the main reason the Thunder lost/won?
Post defense. Even on an offensively unsuccessful night, the Thunder could have grinded this one out with the way the Thunder's post players were going at it in the second half. The numbers don't really show it overall, but they shut down the paint at critical junctures, helping secure the lead.
What's the key statistic to understanding tonight's game?
Denver's 5-22 three point shooting. When the Thunder slowed down the pace and succeeded in getting some big bodies to clog up the lane, Denver was at a loss of what to do. They didn't have Nene to force points for them anymore, and their shots just weren't going down. So they just kept chucking, and it ended up killing any chance they had at coming back.
What does this game mean for the Thunder today and moving forward?
This is a big win emotionally, because it's over an opponent we had to face so many times last year, an opponent that gave us trouble earlier in the season, and it comes after the worst two weeks of the season record-wise. It also secures us a winning record against a division opponent, which will help us in the standings (should we need it). Hopefully, the Thunder can carry this energy into a game against our main Western Conference challenge, the Spurs.
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant, for points that came at the most clutch of times in the 3rd and 4th and avoiding getting fouled out.
Thunder Down Under: Daequan Cook, for his excellent shooting that helped ignite a serious 2nd quarter run.
Thunder Blunder: Serge Ibaka, for a poor offensive showing against a team he knows he can beat in the post.
Thunder Plunderer: Andre Miller, for getting so many free points in the paint.
Next Game: Versus the San Antonio Spurs, Friday, March 16th, 8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time.