Nuggets Best Thunder, Clinch Season Series
Make it and five and five.
The Denver Nuggets won their fifth-straight game with a 121-112 victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.
The triumph was also Denver’s fifth-consecutive, third in 2018-19, against Oklahoma City. More importantly, it clinched the season series between the teams for the Nuggets who, at No. 2, are one place ahead of the Thunder in the Western Conference standings.
“I give our guys credit because we had enough poise to stop the run, execute down the stretch and get enough stops to get the win.” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “As we all know, that’s a very good basketball team. To have beaten them three times says a lot about our team and I don’t even think we’ve played our best basketball yet.”
After putting Dallas and the Los Angeles Clippers, its previous two opponents, away in the third quarter, Denver (42-18) which led by just three after one, looked to distance itself from its Northwest division foe in the second. That’s when it outscored OKC by 10 to take what appeared to be a commanding lead into halftime.
First, All-Star Nuggets center Nikola Jokić knocked down a 3-pointer with 56 seconds to play before the half. Then, he stroked another from deep with 3.4 ticks to go in the second to put his team ahead 64-51 at the break.
The Thunder came out looking to strike early in the third. Superstars point guard Russell Westbrook and wing Paul George sparked a 6-0 run on a back-to-back 3-pointers on their team’s first two possessions. However, the Nuggets would hold serve the rest of a quarter and carry a 91-78 advantage into the fourth.
OKC (38-22) would make one final push in the fourth.
The Thunder whittled what was once a 15-point second-half deficit all the way down to a three on a layup in transition from George with 7:17 to go, prompting Nuggets coach Michael Malone to call a timeout. They tied the contest at 97-97 on a 3-pointer from reserve point guard Dennis Schroeder 28 seconds later before Westbrook added a triple to give his team a three-point lead with 6:02 remaining.
But Denver would battle back on its way to its 10th straight win at home.
A timely corner 3-pointer from point guard Jamal Murray put the Nuggets ahead 102-100 with 5:26 remaining. They’d never trailed again.
“Being there before helps. This is my 13th year. So, I’ve been in a lot of situations, a lot of scenarios.” Nuggets power forward Paul Millsap said. “I can feel how the games going. I can feel what I need to do to help my team win.”
Jokić led way offensively for the Nuggets, nearly recording his 13th triple-double of the season with 36 points on 11-for-25 shooting, including 4-for-7 shooting from 3-point range, and 10 assists to go along with nine rebounds while playing 35 minutes of +21 ball. Murray finished with 20 points and five assists. Will Barton had his best offensive performance since returning after missing 38 games due to injury in mid-January. The Memphis product went for 23 points and Paul Millsap recorded his fourth-straight double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Isaiah Thomas added 11 points off the bench.
George (25) and Westbrook (22) led the way for Oklahoma City while Jerami Grant added 21 points. Steven Adams (15) and Schroeder (11) also had double-digit scoring nights in a losing effort.
The Nuggets will host the Utah Jazz Thursday at 8:30 p.m. MT. That game will be broadcasted live on TNT.