Thunder at Denver Nuggets Game Recap – Feb. 9, 2015
DENVER – Like a flash of light, Andre Roberson streaked from the right corner to the block, with no one within ten feet to impede his path. Right in stride, Kendrick Perkins hit him with a pass and Roberson rewarded the big man with an assist by flushing the ball through the hoop with one hand.
The offensive spacing, tempo and movement that created that bucket was typical of the Thunder’s play all night as Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club came away with a 124-114 shootout victory over the Denver Nuggets. By scoring 106 points through the first three quarters, the Thunder set an Oklahoma City era record, and it was largely thanks to a 24-to-13 assist-to-turnover ratio throughout the night that led to 53.8 percent shooting from the field.
“We were doing a good job of setting up and getting open,” Brooks said.
“We’re moving the basketball,” All-Star forward Kevin Durant said postgame to Lesley McCaslin on Fox Sports Oklahoma. “Everybody is touching it. We have a lot of energy. When we do that, we find the basket.”
The most electrifying component of the victory, however, was the performance of Kevin Durant. He was sensational throughout the contest, particularly during a second quarter stretch when he knocked down four three-pointers on his way to 40 points on the night.
He went 13-for-19 from the field on the night, including 7-for-12 from behind the three-point line, tying an Oklahoma City record for most three-pointers in a game.
“I was able to make some shots,” Durant said. “My teammates were looking for me and setting screens for me. Once I hit one, I feel like I’m hot. I took some bad ones but my teammates didn’t mind. They just kept trying to feed me.”
“Kevin was on fire,” Brooks said. “He had a lot of heat check moments. Everything was falling for him from the three-point line and the big guys did a great job of setting picks on a few of them.”
The Thunder jumped out to a 22-point lead in the second quarter after bursting out to a 38-18 lead after the first 12 minutes of play. The defensive intensity and focus that was there in the early going held Denver to 7-for-24 shooting in the first quarter.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) February 10, 2015
That mojo wasn’t quite there in the second and third quarters, when the Nuggets scored 74 total points. The Thunder’s offense kept the scoreboard moving, however, and the defense rallied back just enough in the fourth quarter to keep Denver at bay.
“I didn’t like the defense we played in the second quarter,” Brooks said. “We locked in in that fourth quarter and got some big stops.”
“We can’t play a pick-up game,” forward Mitch McGary said. “We have to make stops when we need stops and execute on the offensive end.”
While Durant’s scoring was undeniably the most important offensive contribution, the Thunder got great efforts up and down the roster. Russell Westbrook added 26 points, five rebounds and nine assists, Andre Roberson scored a career-high 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting, Anthony Morrow added nine points and Serge Ibaka registered seven points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
Following up on his incredible performance on Sunday night against the Clippers, Thunder rookie Mitch McGary put together a 17-point, ten-rebound effort in 25 minutes of play. He recorded his second double-double in as many games, even while he’s still getting back into full conditioning and game shape in his return from injury.
“I was just going out there and having fun,” McGary explained. “Hopefully I can get in good shape and keep it going.”
“He gives us great energy,” Brooks said. “We knew that. That’s why Sam drafted him, because he has a great feel for the game and a high motor. He loves the game and has enthusiasm for his teammates. You see that on the court.”
The Thunder immediately turns its attention to its final game before the All-Star Break, a home clash with the Memphis Grizzlies, who the Thunder saw just over a week ago. As the team heads into the break, team leaders know that it will be important for the entire squad to keep its mind on the end goal and to focus on how it is playing as a unit as opposed to the results on the scoreboard.
The chemistry and camaraderie is there off the court and in the locker room and over the final 30 games of the season, the team will have more opportunities to build cohesion on the floor.
“We have to keep our heads up, keep working, keep getting better and know that it’s a marathon,” Durant explained.
Stats of the Night
24 – Assists on the night for the Thunder, leading to 53.8 percent shooting from the field
35 - Bench points for the Thunder, led by Mitch McGary’s 17 points and ten rebounds
40 - Points for Kevin Durant on 13-for-19 shooting, including 7-for-12 from the three-point line
The Final Word
“We rallied around each other. We made a run, they made a run. It was an up and down game but we stayed together.” – forward Kevin Durant