The Nuggets jumped out to a 39-28 lead after the first quarter, however, the Thunder cut that lead to 63-60 before halftime. Durant and Westbrook combined for 30 in the first half while Denver's bench poured in 28.
The Nuggets extended their lead in the third, shooting over 54 percent and holding the Thunder to just 23 points on 33.3 percent shooting. Denver's defense also produced four blocks and three steals in the quarter.
Durant and Westbrook put on a show in the final 12 minutes. The two combined for 24 points down the stretch, including a Durant-three that gave Oklahoma City a three point lead with 1:26 remaining.
The Nuggets tried to recover late as Ty Lawson purposely missed a free throw with :03 seconds left. However, after an offensive rebound, Denver couldn't convert on the following inbounds play under the basket and handed Oklahoma City its second straight win.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
It was nice to see Durant and Westbrook have their first big "duo" game of the season, especially in the fourth quarter. However, it was not pleasant watching the first quarter from a defensive point of view.
Denver nearly scored 40 to open the game, and it forced the Thunder into a battle for the final three periods. At no point during the game did it seem too far away for Oklahoma City, but there were times when the defensive intensity just wasn't there.
A win is a win, no matter how you look at it. However, the Thunder have won a couple of games because of their ability to score on weak defensive units down the stretch of games. They can bounce-back from early deficits against teams like the Nuggets. However, will they be able to bounce-back against teams like Indiana, Miami or San Antonio?
What was the overall reason the Thunder won?
Great defense and great rebounding down the stretch combined with the scoring power of Durant and Westbrook.
The Thunder pulled in seven offensive rebounds in the final 12 minutes while holding Denver to just 21 points on 28.6 percent shooting. Serge Ibaka crashed the glass extremely well in the fourth. Air-Congo pulled down five boards (3 offensive) and blocked a shot as well.
Durant and Westbrook's 24 points in the final quarter were huge, especially the three combined three's. The two also combined to go five-for-eight from the free throw stripe.
The fact the Nuggets missed 18 free throws can't be discarded either. If they just hit two of those 18, the two teams could still be playing extra basketball right now.
What was the key statistic to understanding the game?
54.5 percent compared to 41 percent.
The Nuggets shot 54.5 percent in the first half, including 59.3 percent in the first quarter.
After closing the gap before halftime, the Thunder's defensive intensity went up. They turned around and held Denver to 41 percent shooting in the second half, nearly 14 percent lower than the first 24 minutes.
54-45 (19-10) sticks out as well.
Oklahoma City out-rebounded Denver 54-45, including 19 offensive rebounds to 10. Had the Thunder not crashed the glass so well tonight, they would have started their six-game home stand with a loss.
What does this game mean going forward?
It means the Thunder have something to work on: first quarter defense.
Scott Brooks has called Westbrook his defensive tone-setter to start games. Westbrook has been great, however, the rest of the starting unit seems to still be shaking off early season rust.
Durant and Sefolosha haven't performed on the defensive end like they have in the past two seasons, at least to start games. Both recover down the stretch of games, but both wouldn't have to if the defensive intensity was better in the first 12 minutes.
It also means Scotty Brooks is 1-0 versus Brian Shaw. Owned.
|Final - 11.18.2013
|Oklahoma City Thunder
Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant (38 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assits)
Thunder Down Under: Reggie Jackson (14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists)
Thunder Blunder: 1st quarter TEAM defense: 39 points
Thunder Plunderer: Ty Lawson (29 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds)
Next game: vs. Los Angeles Clippers (Nov. 21st) @ 7:00 PM CDT.