Game Recap: Thunder 104, Nuggets 89

News and notes following the Thunder’s 104-89 win over the Denver Nuggets:

  • Oklahoma City picks up the 53rd win of the season and the Thunder is now 14-3 on Friday nights. They win the season series with the Nuggets 3-1, with two wins coming this week. Denver came in as the NBA’s highest scoring team, averaging 107.1 points per game so the Thunder hold them 18 points below their season average.
  • The Thunder defense allowed the Nuggets to shoot just 40.3%, 7.2 percentage points below their season average. “Holding a great team like this to 40% shooting is good for us,” said Thunder forward Kevin Durant. “It gives us a lot of confidence. It’s something we can build on.” “That was a good defensive performance,” said Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks. “We protected the paint and made them take tough shots. Our guys really battled.”
  • Denver’s potent guard/forward tandem of Danilo Gallinari (3-for-10) and Wilson Chandler (1-for-10) were held to a combined 4-for-20. “We challenged ourselves to guarding all their players,” Brooks said. “We were scrappy on defense. We knew they’d make a run but we did a good job of limiting their fast break points.”
  • Denver came in averaging 14.3 fast break points per game but managed just eight against the Thunder. “Every time you play a team in your division you want to win to make a point,” said Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook. “Whether it’s Dallas, Portland or whoever you want to make a point that when the playoffs come around you have an advantage.”
  • Thunder defense up to the challenge to start the game holding the Nuggets to just 17 points (nine points below Denver’s first quarter average) on 29.2% shooting.
  • Halfway through the second quarter Denver’s shooting percentage drops to 28.1 but the Nuggets make a little run toward the end of the half to bring it up to 35.9%.
  • Oklahoma City leading the Nuggets 48-42 at the half. Out-rebounding Denver 25-20 and lead the Nuggets 13-4 in fast break points after the first 24 minutes.
  • Thunder defense continuing to control the Nuggets after three quarters, holding the NBA’s top scoring team to just 64 points on 37.9% shooting.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON’T SHOW: Thunder defense kicking it up in the first quarter keeping the Nuggets scoreless for a five minute stretch and forcing them into a shot clock violation...Great move by Kevin Durant late in the first quarter to get away from coverage, stepping back to hit the jumper...Thunder forces another Denver shot clock violation early in the second quarter and James Harden races away with the ball to score at the other end...midway through the second quarter Nazr Mohammed grabs two offensive ends as he battles in the lane then scores on a putback...James Harden forces Denver’s Al Harrington out beyond the lane and into a missed shot...Great play set up by James Harden and Kendrick Perkins at the 5:00 mark in the second quarter. Harden watches Perkins on an inbounds play and Perk moves into a wide open lane getting a bounce pass from Harden and scores...Russell Westbrook almost gets Raymond Felton to turn the ball over late in the second quarter, continues to pester him and finally slaps the ball away and into Harden’s hands...Westbrook jumps into the passing lane and swipes a pass from Ty Lawson and is fouled while leading a fast break...Denver’s Nene is stuffed in the lane when he tries to penetrate by Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka, Nene puts up a shot anyway and misses...Denver’s Al Harrington falls down in the lane and Kevin Durant takes advantage, driving hard and slamming the ball home for the score...Nazr Mohammed hustling after a loose ball picks it up along the baseline and jams it home early in the fourth quarter...Thunder showing great hustle going after loose balls, Nick Collison has saved a couple of possessions that way and so has Nazr Mohammed...Nice move by Russell Westbrook to steal the ball from Raymond Felton then an outstanding bullet bounce pass to Thabo Sefolosha for the slam to put the Thunder up by 14...Westbrook again tips a pass away, this time from Ty Lawson and races down the court and is fouled.

STATS WORTH REPEATING: Denver (107.1) came in as the NBA’s highest scoring team but managed just 89 against the Thunder on 40.3% shooting...The Thunder outscored the Nuggets 23-8 in transition...Kevin Durant’s 28 points marks the 69th time he’s scored 20 or more this season...Russell Westbrook’s six steals ties Thabo Sefolosha for the team-high this season. Westbrook’s career high in steals is eight...

LAST WORD: “This team (Denver) is good,” admitted Durant. “It’s different in the playoffs. They are going to bring their A-game. We made them miss some shots, but some of those shots they missed on their own. You cannot count those guys out.”

UP NEXT: The last road trip of the regular season takes the team to the west coast for a Sunday showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers. Tip-off is set for 8:30 inside Staples Center. You can watch all the action on Fox Sports Oklahoma or listen in on the Thunder Radio Network.