Russell Westbrook sizzled in the fourth quarter, while gaining his 17th triple-double of the season as the Oklahoma City Thunder downed the Denver Nuggets, 121-106.
Westbrook paced all scorers with 32 points, to go along with 17 rebounds, 11 assists and a slump-busting 7-of-12 3PM. Steven Adams (16), Victor Oladipo (15), Enes Kanter (14), and Andre Roberson (13) joined the dynamic guard in double-figure scoring.
Following a neck-and-neck first half, the Thunder exploded after intermission to outscore the visiting Nuggets 61-46. In the process, Oklahoma City snapped a hard-luck three-game losing streak.
Denver was led by Wilson Chandler’s 24 and Will Barton’s 21. The Nuggets have now dropped five-consecutive contests. Key contributors Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris each missed Saturday night’s outing for the Nuggets with various ailments.
Billy Donovan on Russell Westbrook's 3-point shooting volume this week: "When he’s got it going, I want him to heat check a few times."— Erik Horne (@ErikHorneOK) January 8, 2017
Oklahoma City opened the contest with stifling defensive intensity, limiting Denver to 3-of-17 shooting, while building a 15-8 advantage. Meanwhile, Domantas Sabonis showcased a deft array of post moves to score nine of his team's first 17 points.
However, following the first wave of OKC substitutions, Denver narrowed the gap by way of a well-balanced 16-9 run. At the end of one, OKC held a slim 24-22 lead.
To begin quarter two, the freshly recalled Cameron Payne made his presence felt by burying a three-pointer and assisting on a Lauvergne lay in. With the starters resting, OKC's reserve unit 'twin towers' of Kanter and Lauvergne kept the Thunder's cause afloat.
Although, Oklahoma City's security was brief in nature.
A plucky Denver unit constructed another advantageous mid-quarter run. Throughout this charge, the Thunder's momentum gradually dissipated. Mike Malone's crew assumed a 52-46 edge with 3:25 remaining in the half.
As intermission loomed, the Thunder’s initial defensive efficiency was shredded by a 13-point second-quarter eruption from Wilson Chandler. Trailing at home, Oklahoma City battled back to tie the game 60-all at halftime.
Russell Westbrook (12 pts, 8 rebs, 5 assts) roused to life in the second frame to spearhead OKC’s intermission standing. Rookie Domantas Sabonis added nine, as Cameron Payne’s 16-17’ first-half debut played out successfully with eight points on 3-of-4 shooting.
For Denver, Wilson Chandler’s 19 points led all scorers at the break. Meanwhile, Will Barton (9) and Darrell Arthur (8) kept the visiting team in competitive contention as the second half began.
Through the first two quarters, Denver’s lively bench held a 31-22 scoring advantage, sparked by standout reserve Chandler.
In a pivotal third quarter, Westbrook continued his effective all-around performance. Though more importantly, the tenacious Thunder defense re-emerged. OKC held the Nuggets to 7-24 FGA. Offensively, the tandem of Westbrook (8 pts) and Steven Adams (9) combined to bring OKC an 85-73 lead with 2:40 remaining in the period.
Heading into the fourth, the NBA's leading scorer sat one assist shy of a triple-double, as Denver made yet another mini-run to cut Oklahoma City's cushion to 88-80.
As the final frame unfolded, Westbrook claimed his 17th triple-double in 38 games. Overall, OKC’s leader netted 12 fourth-quarter points, and his Thunder outscored an over-matched Denver Nuggets collective 33-26 to prevail at the deciding buzzer, 121-106.
Russell Westbrook is now one triple-double shy of matching his entire total (18) from last season. With the victory, Oklahoma City’s record improves to 22-16. Denver now sits at 14-23 after making a push toward .500 respectability
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER VS. DENVER NUGGETS BY THE NUMBERS
- Though outrebounded 53-49, OKC outscored Denver in the paint 56-48.
- Oklahoma City held the Nuggets to 31/28/70 shooting in the second half.
- The Thunder forced Denver into five fourth-quarter turnovers.
- Oklahoma City’s starters outscored Denver’s opening unit 24-13 in the fourth quarter.
- The Thunder leads the Nuggets 2-0 thus far in the season series.
- Russell Westbrook led the Thunder in plus minus at +24.
- Westbrook now has three-consecutive triple-doubles vs. the Nuggets.
- Jerami Grant (4) and Steven Adams (4) combined for eight of Oklahoma City’s eleven blocked shots.
Oklahoma City improves to 14-6 at home. Meanwhile, Denver’s road record drops to 7-12.
The Thunder take the court again Monday night vs. the Chicago Bulls.