Russell Westbrook’s fantastic first quarter, and Oklahoma City’s stifling defense really put the game away early. The Oklahoma City Thunder led by as many as 28 points. The Thunder thumped the Denver Nuggets, who were on the second night of a back-to-back, an overtime game in their first game no less, 117-97. Oklahoma City improved to a league leading 31-8 on the season and 19-3 at home. Russell Westbrook led the way for Oklahoma City with 32 points.
The Thunder started the game the way they wanted, on a big run. Oklahoma City started the game out 7-0 before the Denver Nuggets finally marked on the scoring column. It didn’t take long for the Thunder to push their lead out to double digits at 16-6 with 6:46 left in the quarter. The Russell Westbrook show continued throughout the quarter. Westbrook finished with 19 points in the segment, but Oklahoma City is the real winners as they lead 34-18 after the first quarter.
It didn’t stop in just the first quarter. Kevin Durant and Kevin Martin really fueled the second quarter. At one point in the second quarter, Durant, Martin and Westbrook were outscoring the Nuggets by themselves. Oklahoma City extended their lead to over 20 points early in the quarter off a Westbrook dunk, giving Oklahoma City the 45-23 lead. Durant had a monster jam on the Nuggets, really just crushing their spirit. Durant was called for the tech for “taunting” Kenneth Faried.
Oklahoma City did nothing but extend the lead in the second half. Oklahoma City led by as much as 27 in the quarter when Thabo Sefolosha nailed his third three of the quarter, giving the Thunder the 88-61 lead with 2:56 lead. Then, the Thunder increased it a littler later in the game to 28 points, a 93-65 lead with 1:15 left. Oklahoma City’s defense in the quarter was very strong, including Serge Ibaka’s blocking. Ibaka blocked four shots in the third quarter alone. The Thunder nailed 3 three-pointers in the quarter. Oklahoma City led 95-70 when the quarter was over.
Despite a run by the Nuggets early in the quarter, Oklahoma City’s reserves really stepped up tonight. Oklahoma City increased the lead that had been cut down to as little as 17, back up to 25 points towards the end of the quarter. DeAndre Liggins and Reggie Jackson both really put on a show in the fourth quarter with their really good passing and scoring. Reggie Jackson’s 36 per? 36 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists. AMAZING.
Keys to the Game
Fast Start: A+
Oklahoma City did just that. They came out and jumped on the Denver Nuggets right away. Oklahoma City led 7-0 before the Nuggets even found the basket. They led by 20 points before the Nuggets even hit 25 points. They basically put the game away before the Nuggets even had a chance to make a come back.
Offensive Rebounds: B
The Nuggets had 11 offensive rebounds, scoring 15 second chance points off those. However, those were really just second and third scoring, really. Oklahoma City gets a B, due to the fact that they outscored the Nuggets on second chance points, while pulling down more offensive rebounds with 15 offensive boards.
Bench Play: B+
Well, looked like the grade was dropping with each made Nugget basket in the fourth quarter. However, after a time out, the reserves really stepped it up in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City at one point in the quarter, had been outscored by 10 points, but they really stuck around and showed their maturity. Yet, through three quarters, our bench had outscored the Nuggets bench 27-22.
- How great was Russell Westbrook? Hard to really put into words what he did tonight. He was averaging 31.5 ppg in his last three games against Denver. He put that up in three quarters. Who knows what he could’ve done if given four quarters.
- Also on Westbrook, this might have been one of his most consistent nights. In the third quarter, I, and I’m sure many of you, expected him to drop off, to miss a lot of shots. Nope. He just hit more shots, increasing his shooting percentage. If Westbrook can hit 50 percent from mid-range, the rest of the league is in serious trouble.
- Ibaka played tonight, after missing the previous two games with a chest contusion. Ibaka blocked a shot in the second quarter, and winced after swinging. His shot never looked the same. I’m sure he’s still has some lingering effects from the injury.
- Thabo Sefolosha, wow. 3-of-5 from three-point range? That was impressive. Thabo is second on the team in three-point shooting after leading the team last season.
- Kevin Durant’s dunk in the second quarter? Man, might have hurt someone if that was a rim. He also received a techincal foul for yelling in Kenneth Faried’s face. Faried and Durant had been jawing some. It stopped after that. Not a coincidence.
- Oklahoma City was not messing around tonight. They came in and shut up the Nuggets. Did it quick and swiftly. It was never a game.
- Given, the Nuggets were on the second night of a back-to-back. Their first game went to overtime. Then, they flew in late due to that. However, still have a job to do. They did not.
- Nick Collison left in the second quarter with a right sprained ankle. He was held out for precautionary reasons, I’m sure. Expect him to play Friday.
- Russell Westbrook (32 Pts, 28 Min): 3rd Thunder/Sonic w/30+ Pts in 28 or fewer min in the last 25 seasons (Sedale Threatt, Xavier McDaniel)
- How about the vets really eating into the Thunder pups after that timeout in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t as much as Brooks yelling or coaching, it was the starters. They held the younger guys accountable. That’s how you build chemistry and a foundation for winning.
- Oklahoma City shot over 50 percent from three tonight through three quarters. That’s wild. Thunder continue to lead the association in three-point shooting. Not really counting the fourth, OKC was just 2-of-6 in the fourth.
- Oklahoma City is now 27-1 when scoring over 100 points. 14 of those wins have been over 110 points.
- Thunder now a cool 14-0 when they shoot better than 50 percent
- Oklahoma City now 5-0 when 3 or more players score 20 points.
- OKC is now 24-5 when they have 20 or more assists. Looking deeper, OKC is 9-1 when they have more than 24 assists in a game.
- last random stat: OKC is now 13-0 when they have less turnovers than their opponent. That should be a given though.
- I cannot say enough about DeAndre Liggins. Dude is earning every single second he is on that floor. Sometimes, he’s too helpful. Especially in the fourth quarter. He was trying to get his team mates involved, turned it over twice. Wild what a training camp and a positive work environment will do.
- See: Hasheem Thabeet
- Man, Jeremy Lamb didn’t play well in his limited time. Sucks.
- Oklahoma City led by as many as 28 points, but Eric Maynor didn’t even see the court. This has to be the end of Maynor, right?
Next Up: at Dallas on Friday.