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Thunder Uses Balanced Effort To Blow Out Denver

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The Oklahoma City Thunder hosted a basketball clinic at Chesapeake Arena Wednesday night, and the Denver Nuggets got free admission.

11 Thunder players got double-digit minutes and 12 guys scored in a runaway 117-97 win.

This one was over after the first quarter. Denver looked sluggish and unmotivated while Oklahoma City was energized by the return of Serge Ibaka and the arrival of the Nuggets' 23rd-ranked defense.

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Martin drained one shot after another as the first-half score got ugly fast. OKC led 34-18 after one and the scoring avalanche continued in the second. Martin scored 14 points on 5-7 shooting, Durant dropped 16 points on 6-10 shooting, but Westbrook stole the show, pouring in 25 points on 9-15 shooting to lead the Thunder to a 67-47 halftime lead.

The Nuggets (24-17) were hampered by Ty Lawson's early foul trouble, Wilson Chandler's unavailability and porous shooting from 3-point range. Denver has relied heavily on the 3-ball all season, but the touch abandoned them Wednesday night, leading to a 2-15 (13.3 percent) performance.  Kosta Koufos led Denver with 16 points and nine boards.

In contrast, the Thunder shot 51.8 percent from the field and 9-19 (47.4 percent) from downtown.

The win is OKC's fifth-straight and 10th in 12 games. The lopsided score allowed coach Scott Brooks to let his rotation players sit for a majority of the second half as some of the Thunder's young guys some valuable playing time. Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb and DeAndre Liggins played a combined 43 minutes and scored 14 points between them.

Durant finished with 20 points in just 29 minutes, Westbrook totaled 32 points in his 28 minutes while Martin scored 20 in only 19 minutes. Ibaka was effective in his return, scoring only five points but grabbing six boards and blocking five shots in his 27 minutes.

That rest might come in handy as Oklahoma City (31-8) heads back on the road for a six-game trip against Western-Conference opponents. The trip begins Friday night against the suddenly-hot Dallas Mavericks and ends Sunday, Jan. 27 in the Staples Center against the Lakers.

The loss drops Denver's road record to 9-15, which is hard to understand considering its home mark of 14-2. The Nuggets will host the Thunder Sunday, Jan. 20.  It will be game two of OKC's road trip.  

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