Thunder Make Late Rally, Fall Short in Denver

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Thabo Sefolosha gave Ty Lawson just a little bit of space on a 4-of-13 shooting night, and Lawson drained what would become the game winning jumper with 0.2 seconds left in a 105-103 win for the Denver Nuggets at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In a game that featured an up and down 4th quarter, the Thunder’s poor 2nd quarter became the turning point that would ultimately deal them their 16th loss of the season. A 30-18 outburst by the Nuggets in the 2nd quarter, followed by a furious comeback in the 4th, sent the Thunder to 42-16 on the season, and 16-12 on the road. The division rivals have now split their 4 games 2-2 on the 2012-13 season, both teams taking their wins at home.

The first quarter started with a flurry of Thunder buckets, before the Nuggets ultimately closed the quarter to get within three points at 29-26. The Nuggets would then, led by Wilson Chandler, take the lead with 10:37 left in the 2nd quarter and wouldn’t relinquish the lead again until the 3:17 left in the final quarter. Chandler would finish with 35 points, tying his career high in scoring.

Bench scoring was a huge boost for Denver, who outscored the Thunder bench 63-11, led by Chandler’s 35. The Thunder’s bench registered an atrocious -43 in the plus/minus department, and seemed to be absent the whole game. Even Nick Collison, who has been a consistent defensive factor for the Thunder this season, registered a -10, putting up only 2 points and 4 rebounds.

With a strong 4th quarter, where the Thunder outscored the Nuggets 28-20, the Thunder cut the lead down to 3, only for it to be extended a few times, before they finally tied it up on 2 Serge Ibaka free throws with 4:29 left to play. The Nuggets would regain the lead, but strong play from Russell Westbrook would eventually push the Thunder on the high side, 97-96, with 3:17 to play.

Unfortunately for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the back and forth game would eventually go in favor of the Nuggets. Kevin Durant missed a shot in a two-for-one situation with less than 48 seconds left in the 4th, then hit a runner to tie it up at 103 after a Wilson Chandler jumper. Lawson then hit with 0.2 left, and the Thunder could not get the tip in to go at the buzzer, turning it over to cap a loss on the beginning of a 2 game road trip, including 3 of the next 4 on the road.

Russell Westbrook erupted for 38 points, and Kevin Durant added 25, including 14 rebounds to post another double-double.The Thunder missed 10 free throws, going 24-34, and turned the ball over 19 times, in a tough 2 point loss on the road.

Keys to the Game

Defending the Paint: C-
The Thunder could not contain the Denver paint attack tonight, giving up 60 points on the inside. While the Denver bigs did not have a huge night, the fast break points had a huge effect on the amount given up in the paint.

Three Point Shooting: C
Three point shooting was not a huge factor either way, as both teams had 7 makes, OKC on 20 attempts, Denver on 21. Wilson Chandler, however, managed to hit 6 of his 7 attempts from beyond the arc.

Turnovers: B-
The Nuggets forced 10 turnovers against the Thunder, not the most Oklahoma City has given up, but certainly not the least. Compared to 14 turnovers for the Nuggets, the turnover battle was about even for an NBA game.

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