Wilson Chandler had 35 points and Ty Lawson hit the game winner with 0.2 second left as the Denver Nuggets defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, 105-103.
The Thunder got out to an early double digit lead before the Nuggets went on a 16-0 run in the second quarter. Denver then held onto the lead for much of the game, until the Thunder finally tied it up 91-91 midway through the fourth. The back and forth continued til the final seconds, as Kevin Durant hit the game tying shot with 17 seconds left.
Denver then set up Ty Lawson with the game winning shot, leaving just .2 second, the Thunder's final tip wasn't able to go in and the Nuggets held serve on their home court.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 38 points, Kevin Durant added 25, while Serge Ibaka had 17.
What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?
Denver and OKC games tend to be competitive, but OKC has been able to have a decisive advantage in recent match-ups. After the Thunder's hot start, Nuggets were able to cool Durant and Co, and against the second team go on a massive run, that the Thunder didn't bounce back from until the fourth. Derek Fisher played only five minutes tonight and Kevin Martin was mostly absent from tonight's game, and had only 3 points on 1-5 shooting to go along with 4 turnovers.
The last time these two teams met was the infamous 'QuesoGate' incident, in which Westbrook goaltended 2 attempts by Denver's Mascot Rocky at a halfcourt shot, costing the fans free queso. Westbrook heard the boos throughout the night, but the only way it manifested was that Westbrook struggled with an uncharacteristic 5 misses at the free throw line. Those misses proved costly in the end.
What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder lost?
The Denver Nuggets bench outscored the Oklahoma City bench 71-11. While to be sure Denver's bench is an unusual construction, where the team's leading scorers were 2nd unit players Chandler and Corey Brewer, the Thunder bench woefully underperformed. You don't need to look much futher than the five minutes Derek Fisher played to realize that most of his game has passed him. His first shot attempt was a badly missed 3-pointer, and he did little else the rest of his time on the court. Reggie Jackson was playing at a much better level, continuing Westbrook's mission to attack the rim. However, when Kevin Martin ended up 12 points below his season's average, it underscored the Denver bench dominance even more. The run that the put the Nuggets ahead shouldn't have put the Thunder away for that long, but Brooks was unable to come up with a lineup adjust to get OKC back into the ball game.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the floor the Nuggets did an effective job keeping the Thunder in front of them and Scott Brooks was never quite able to adjust offensively. Durant didn't go to the basket very much, instead opting to shoot over his defender, and the Thunder opted out of giving him the ball in the low post, instead settling for jump shots.
What was a key statistic to understanding the game?
The Thunder allowed 60 points in the paint to the Nuggets, a team whose best frontcourt player is JaVale McGhee. Ibaka and Perkins were unable to provide the defense around the basket the Thunder needed.
The Thunder also had an uncharacteristically poor night from the line, shooting 24-34 for 70%. Even Russell Westbrook who had a hot night from the floor missed 5 on the night. Just three of those would have been the difference between a win and a loss tonight.
What does this game mean to the Thunder tonight and going forward?
Tonight was a frustrating night for the Thunder, for much of the season they've been able to bounce back pretty well after a loss. The Thunder will now head to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers. OKC is only a half a game ahead of the Clippers right now, meaning that the winner of Sunday night's match-up will be for the second seed in the West.
Thunder Wonder: Russell Westbrook, 38 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists.
Thunder Down Under: Serge Ibaka 17 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist.
Thunder Blunder: Kevin Martin, 3 points, 1-5 FG, 4 turnovers.
Thunder Plunderer: Wilson Chandler, 35 points, 3 rebounds.
Next game: @ Los Angeles Clippers, on Sunday March 3, @ 2:30 pm
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