Game Recap - Playoffs Game 1 vs Denver Nuggets

Playoffs Series at a Glance
107 103

1 Thunder leads the best-of-seven series, 1-0.

4 Number of blocked shots in first half by Serge Ibaka.

7 Number of consecutive shots the Nuggets made to open the game, including two from 3-point range.

9 Number of 3-point shots the Thunder made. ... Also the number of lead changes and ties in the game.

13 The Thunder's largest deficit, 39-26.

41 New playoff-high scoring title set by Thunder forward Kevin Durant.

42.9 The Nuggets' shooting percentage in the second half; they shot 62.5 percent in the first quarter.

72 Number of points scored by Russell Durant and Russell Westbrook.

18,203 Number of free blue Thunder Playoffs T-shirts given to fans Sunday night, courtesy of Chesapeake Energy.

UP NEXT: Game 2 of the best-of-seven will be played Wednesday night in the Oklahoma City Arena.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Oklahoma and the Thunder Radio Network.


GAME STORY

On a day when the top two seeds in the Western Conference lost their NBA Playoffs opener, the Thunder was determined to make sure it wasn't going to become the third team to lose to its lower-seeded opponent on its home court.

With Kevin Durant (41 points) and Russell Westbrook (31) combining for 72 points, the Thunder battled its way to a tough, 107-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night in Game 1 of their first-round series. Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in the Oklahoma City Arena.

"We did what it took to win tonight," Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks said afterwards.

The final score will tell you it was not easy, a point reinforced by the bruises and floor burns that are sure to surface overnight.

"That's a tough team. They're tough to defend, tough to score against," Durant said. "We did whatever it took to win that game. We dove on the floor, whatever it took. It was a hard-fought win."

The Nuggets opened the game by hitting their first seven shots from the field and 10 of their first 12. Denver jumped out to a double-digit lead in less than five minutes and didn't let up; the Nuggets led 33-24 at the end of the first quarter and pushed it to 39-26 early in the second. But backup point guard Eric Maynor scored six of his 12 points in a four-minute burst that helped spark a Thunder rally and the cut the Nuggets' lead to six.

"Eric, as quietly as he plays, he doesn't get a lot of attention because he's the backup point guard, but it's such a critical position," Brooks said. "But he did a great job. Five-for-seven, 12 points. He ran the team. Eric is improving and he's getting better defensively. He had a good game. He really pressured their guards ... I thought Eric was a big part of our win."

The Nuggets pushed the lead back to eight (56-48) with 3:49 to go in the half before Durant and Westbrook took over. Westbrook scored seven points in the final 3:17 and Durant added four as the Thunder, inspired by the roar of their fans draped in blue, pulled within 60-59 at halftime. Westbrook, who had a steal and uncontested slam dunk in the final seconds, said he was trying to "set the tone to carry into the second half."

The second half was as intense as the first. Taking advantage of hard screens set by Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison, Durant and Westbrook went to work on the Nuggets defense. Durant finished the third quarter with 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting; Westbrook had five points in a short span that pulled the Thunder even at 62-62 and gave it its first lead of the game, 64-62.

"Kevin and Russell, they're great teammates. Obviously they developed into All-Stars this year," Brooks said. "But we're a good team. We're not a Kevin and Russell team, we're a Thunder team. Guys all chip in. Without Eric's minutes tonight, without Serge's (four) blocks tonight, we don't win this game. Perk (Kendrick Perkins) was setting great screens, Nick (Collison) was setting great screens ... they're a good team, but we're a good team."

And good teams battle to the finish. The Thunder led, 98-90, with 6:13 to play, but the Nuggets responded with a 9-0 run. The lead would change four times over the next 2:44, but a Kendrick Perkins tip-in of a Westbrook miss with 1:05 to play would give the Thunder a lead it would never relinquish.

"We had our chances," Denver Coach George Karl said. "The guys fought and did everything we asked them to do. ... I told them it's just the beginning."

GAME IN REVIEW

THE GAME WAS OVER WHEN: The final buzzer sounded and the clock read 00.0. Seriously.

The Thunder led, 98-90, with 6 minutes, 13 seconds remaining and had possession of the ball. But a turnover prevented the lead from growing to double digits. The Nuggets responded with a 9-0 run over the next 2:24 to take a 99-98 lead. The lead would change four times over the next 2:43 before two fields goals by Russell Westbrook and two free throws from Kevin Durant put ahead by five with 7.7 seconds to play.

TURNING POINT: We're going to make that Turning Points, because there were two in the second quarter helped that turn this game the Thunder's way.

In the second quarter, the Thunder was down by as many as 13 points. With Eric Maynor running the offense, the Thunder began chipping away at the lead. Daequan Cook drilled a 3-pointer to cut it to eight and, after forcing a Nuggets turnover, Maynor followed with a 18-foot jumper on the ensuing possession to pull the Thunder within six, 46-40.

Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks then turned to his starters. The Nuggets pushed their lead back to eight (56-48) with 3:49 to play in the half and Brooks immediately called time out. The Thunder responded with a 7-0 run highlighted by a Westbrook steal-and-dunk sequence with 4.9 seconds left in the half, sending OKC to the locker room down 60-59 at the half.

"I just wanted to set a tone going into halftime," Westbrook told reporters after the game.

PLAYS THE BOX SCORE WON'T SHOW: Durant, from behind, swiping the ball out of Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari's hands on a drive early in the first quarter. ... The box will show Serge Ibaka with four blocks, but one in particular needs to be called out. With the Nuggets up 16-6, Nene has a clear path to the basket and prepares for a serious throw down. Ibaka rises and rejects the shot. As he does, his momentum takes him to his backside, where he jumps up and races downcourt to join the Thunder offense. ... More Serge: In second quarter, trailing the play, Ibaka provides backside help and sends Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler's shot six rows deep. ... Nick Collison keeps an offensive rebound alive, where it is eventually picked up by Westbrook drives to the basket and draws a blocking foul on Nene for a three-point play. ... James Harden steps in the paint to draw a charge on Nuggets center Chris Andersen with Thunder down, 31-20. ... Eric Maynor strips the ball from Raymond Felton and gains possession of the loose ball. The play results in a 3-pointer by Daequan Cook and send the crowd into a frenzy. ... Thabo Sefolosha comes up with a loose ball following a scrum on the floor involving two Thunder players and two Nuggets. ... With 10:06 to play, and the Thunder up, 88-86, Collison outworks three Nuggets for the rebound. ... With 9:48 to play, Collison draws a charge on Felton, who is hit with a technical foul for his protest of the call. Durant hits the free throw and the Thunder leads, 89-86. ... Harden, open on the wing with room to shoot, instead drives and pulls the defense to him. He finds Maynor across the court all alone, who catches and releases a 3 that hits only net. Thunder up, 92-86.

STATS WORTH REPEATING: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined for 72 points. ... In the third quarter, Durant converted five of seven field goal attempts and was 3-for-3 from beyond the 3-point line. He scored 14 points in the quarter. ... The Thunder shot 47.4 percent from behind the arc (9-for-19). ... The Nuggets shot 63.6 percent from the free-throw line (21-33).

LAST WORD: “We knew this would be a tough series. Denver is a physical team. They play hard and they play good basketball. But we really got after it. It’s not just about scoring. It’s about defending and playing solid basketball throughout the game.” -- Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks.