Oklahoma City Storms Back To Beat Denver
OKLAHOMA CITY - If close games aren't your cup of tea, this has been a rough start to the NBA season if you're a Thunder fan.
Oklahoma City's modus operandi through 10 games seems to be falling behind early before putting together a furious rally en route to a heart-stopping finish. That was very much the case once again on Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Thunder trailed by as many as 14 points in the second half – and as much as 12 in the fourth – against Denver, which had led the game for all but 18 seconds of the opening quarter before OKC roared back for a thrilling 115-113 victory.
The Thunder (7-3) had made one previous rally in the game, scoring the final seven points of the first half to trail by just three going into the locker room and momentum appeared to have swung in OKC's favor.
But after a Kevin Durant jumper closed the gap to 63-62 immediately in the third quarter, Denver (4-6) went on a 15-2 run and allowed the Thunder just one field goal in a stretch of more than six minutes.
However, as the Thunder has proved time and time again, it is never out of a game at The Peake.
Oklahoma City went on a 7-0 run that took just 1:27 off the clock early in the fourth quarter to close the gap to 97-92, and that's when the Thunder defense finally locked down after a rocky initial three quarters to propel the comeback effort.
A rapid-fire five-point spurt capped by a Serge Ibaka layup with 4:11 remaining in the contest gave OKC a 103-102 edge and its first lead since 2-0 in the game's opening seconds. Then a cold-blooded KD 3-pointer gave the Thunder the lead for good at 108-105 with 1:25 left.
The Nuggets didn't go away quietly, scoring eight points in the final 39 seconds and having a chance to tie at the buzzer, but the shot fell short and the Thunder took care of business at the foul line to improve to 4-0 at home for the first time in franchise history.
Durant once again led the charge with a game-high 38 points and, despite an erratic 11-of-27 showing from the floor, he put the team on his back and kept the Thunder in the game even during its struggles. He was dominant from the foul line, as well, connecting on 13-of-16 free throws to go with eight rebounds and six assists.
As good as KD was, Russell Westbrook wasn't far behind.
Westbrook is always a tough matchup for the Nuggets and he lit them up again on Monday with 30 points, seven assists and a team-high 12 rebounds.
Reggie Jackson was the only other Thunder player to hit double figures with 14 points, including a big pair of free throws to help hold Denver off down the stretch.
Serge Ibaka had his worst outing in a few weeks with six points on 3-of-7 shooting to go with seven boards, but he came up with several key plays in the fourth quarter, including two rebounds to keep the play alive that resulted in KD's 3 to put OKC up for good.
Ty Lawson did his best to matchup his point guard counterpart in Westbrook with 29 points of his own and eight assists to lead the Nuggets, while forward J.J. Hickson turned in a monster performance with 18 points and 19 rebounds.
OKC shot just 40.9 percent to Denver's 48.2, but the Thunder was dialed in from 3-point range to the tune of 48.1 percent on 13-of-27 shooting to help bridge the gap.
This win marked game No. 1 of the Thunder's six-game home stand that continues on Thursday when Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and the Clippers come to town for a 7 p.m. matchup at The Peake.