They nearly didn’t make it, but one nice post up move from Kenneth Faried, topping off a big night from Corey Brewer and a huge night on the opposite end from Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, was enough for the Denver Nuggets to come away with a 121-118 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
There’s isn’t much stopping Durant and Westbrook as they try to set records and reach impressive numbers. Durant scored 37 points, making 20-21 from the line, ending his streak of 50 consecutive made free throws. He was once again quite bad from the field, going 7-20 and 3-10 from beyond the arc. The Thunder don’t really have an offensive system, as Scott Brooks was there but not there, his mother passing away a day before the game.
Russell Westbrook was just as good/bad. He scored 36 points and was close to a triple double with 8 rebounds and 9 assists (Durant had a 7-8 night), but was just as bad with his shooting and shot selection, finishing with 10-26 and 1-7 when he took three point shots. That means the two combined for an eFG% of 34.8%, it’s very hard to win basketball games. The fact that the two started hitting those shots on a furious rally near the end of the game leaves everyone puzzled as to where was that energy before.
The answer is similar to some games from last season’s playoffs – Scott Brooks gets out-coached more than once. His players simply have the talent to take him and pull him out of these jams. Once in a while, it’s not going to be enough, as the lead they gave up and their bad defending early in the game was too much to make up.
After losing to the Thunder by 20 points, the Nuggets needed some sort of reply. It came in the form of Corey Brewer with 26 points, including 3-6 from the outside; Danilo Gallinari, struggling a bit this season, scoring 18 points and a huge day on the offensive glass for Denver coming from Faried (16 points, 4 offensive rebounds) and Kostas Koufos (10 points, 3 offensive rebounds) and the rest, combining to grab 20 offensive rebounds on the day, something they do better than anyone else in the NBA.
With that kind of second chance efficiency, combined with the 23 turnovers from the Thunder, bringing this game back to a tie game and forcing overtime was all Durant and Westbrook could do. The Nuggets also turned the ball over 23 times (7 by Ty Lawson), but they managed to protect the glass pretty well, allowing only 11 offensive boards for the Thunder.