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Thunder vs Nuggets, final score: Oklahoma City drops Denver thanks to a big night from Kevin Durant, 124-114

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Kevin Durant records 40 points with ease en route to an Oklahoma City Thunder victory over the struggling Denver Nuggets.

W. Bennett Berry

Box ScoreDenver Stiffs

After setting the tone early, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder used a strong first quarter lead to hand a 124-114 defeat the Denver Nuggets, who now have lost 13 of their last 14 games.

Playing the second night of a back-to-back in a high-altitude environment probably seemed like it would hinder the Thunder at least a little bit coming off of an offensive explosion against the Clippers on Sunday. It did not, and Kevin Durant made sure of that. KD furiously dropped 40 points in his 37 minutes, including a second quarter barrage that re-extended a dwindling Oklahoma City lead and gave his team momentum heading into the half.

While the Thunder never trailed and lead by as much as 22  at one point, the Nuggets hung around, making runs against some periods of sluggish defense by OKC. At one point in the early minutes of the third quarter, a Kevin Durant flagrant and technical foul lead to the Nuggets cutting the lead down to just five. However, Russell Westbrook broke off a quick five point sequence and brought Oklahoma City back into a more comfortable lead that would expand to as much as 19 in the quarter.

The fourth quarter also featured more attempts by Denver to make this would-be blowout into a competitive game again, but OKC remained composed and didn't let them back in thanks to some helpful buckets by Durant and Westbrook down the stretch.

Durant's seven 3 pointers tied a career high for him tonight and also resulted in some noteworthy reaction from Serge Ibaka and even KD himself, who is in fact a bad "mother F word".

What is your initial reaction to tonight's result?

Oklahoma City has been playing incredible on offense these past two games, but the defensive end still leaves a lot to be desired. Though they have scored 255 points in the past two contests, they have also given up 222 points. That will likely have to change against the Memphis Grizzlies coming up later in the week, who are always a tough play for the Thunder (and pretty much every other team in the league, too).

Overall, this was still a great win for OKC, putting them into a tie with New Orleans for the 9th spot in the Western Conference and just 1.5 games behind Phoenix for the coveted 8th playoff spot.

What was, overall, the main reason why the Thunder won?

I could just write "Kevin Durant" and feel pretty okay about my reasoning, but this Thunder win was propelled a lot by the little things done by the players around him tonight.

Russell Westbrook had a really quiet 26 points and 9 assists and Andre Roberson even pitched in a career high 12 points including two (!!!) makes from 3-point range. Anthony Morrow seemed like he had his shot in rhythm after missing the game yesterday, scoring 9 points on 4-6 shooting.

And how could I not talk about the increasingly important role of Mitch McGary?  McBro notched another double-double with 17 points and 10 boards in his 25 minutes of energy-filled action.

Beyond the numbers, Royce Young made a good point that a lot of Durant's shots tonight were being set up by some solid screening by Kendrick Perkins, who continues to show some value even when fans (myself included) start to doubt how important he is to this team.


Kyle's Awards

Thunder Wonder: Kevin Durant: 40 points (13-19, 7-12 from 3)

Thunder Down Under: Mitch McGary: 17 points, 10 rebounds, 45 hustle plays (approximate)

Thunder Blunder: Dion Waiters: 2 points (1-8 shooting), 3 turnovers

Thunder Plunderer: Kenneth Faried: 22 points (8-14 shooting), 10 rebounds


P.S. Let's not forget to mention the fascinating pre-game handshake by Jeremy Lamb and Perry Jones III. Pretty tight action for a duo who recorded a combined zero minutes of action.

Next game: vs Memphis Grizzlies on Feb. 11 at 7PM CDT