Inside of a semi-desolate Pepsi Center in Denver, the Thunder was able to display its dominance and take down the Nuggets 124-102 on Tuesday night.
After a lackadaisical start, OKC finally buckled down and began taking care of business against a Denver team that has long been eliminated from playoff contention.
Ho-hum start in Denver, Nuggets lead 13-8 #News9Thunder— Steve McGehee (@SteveMcGehee) April 6, 2016
Ho-hum start in Denver, Nuggets lead 13-8 #News9Thunder
Nuggets’ forward Jakar Sampson gave his team a 37-36 lead after a put-back layup towards the beginning of the second quarter, but the rest of the frame didn’t go as smoothly for Denver. Russell Westbrook quickly checked back into the game after Denver took the lead, and the Thunder point guard began creating havoc.
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Whether he was crashing the boards, or setting up his teammates with calculated passes, Westbrook was everywhere on the court, and his 10 first half rebounds are proof of that.
Led by Westbrook’s energy and Kevin Durant’s lethal stroke, the Thunder roared off a mega 23-to-2 run to go up 59-39 after Serge Ibaka drained a 19-foot jumper.
Justin at the @Nuggets vs Thunder game ?? pic.twitter.com/taHGvDwoCK— Justin Bieber Crew (@JustinCrew) April 6, 2016
Justin at the @Nuggets vs Thunder game ?? pic.twitter.com/taHGvDwoCK
OKC took an 18-point lead into halftime, but Westbrook and Durant weren’t about to take their foot off the pedal just yet.
Westbrook dished to Steven Adams for a slam off a fast-break, then on the next two possessions hooked up with Andre Roberson for a layup and found Anthony Morrow for an open 3-pointer. Durant banked in a contested fast-break layup off of a steal on the next possession, and then added two more points off an assist from Westbrook to put the Thunder up 85-60.
To add fuel to the fire, Westbrook zipped a beautiful alley-oop pass to Roberson, and then hit a wide open 3-pointer just over a minute later to put the Thunder up 92-67 with 4:30 left in the third quarter.
Exactly what they needed, Thunder up 92-67, good chance for KD and Russ to rest in the 4th. #News9Thunder— Steve McGehee (@SteveMcGehee) April 6, 2016
Exactly what they needed, Thunder up 92-67, good chance for KD and Russ to rest in the 4th. #News9Thunder
OKC finished the frame with a 30-point lead, and the Thunder superstars were able to rest down the stretch as the game was well out of reach.
Durant led the Thunder in scoring with 26 points to go with eight assists, while Westbrook notched his 17th triple-double of the season with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. Westbrook has now tied Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in a season in the last 30 years.
With tonight's triple-double, @russwest44 has tied @MagicJohnson for the most in one season (17) since 1988-89! pic.twitter.com/Mw0Dne8P4u— NBA (@NBA) April 6, 2016
With tonight's triple-double, @russwest44 has tied @MagicJohnson for the most in one season (17) since 1988-89! pic.twitter.com/Mw0Dne8P4u
The “Thunder Buddies” weren’t the only guys who came to play on Tuesday, as Ibaka, Enes Kanter and Dion Waiters each contributed 18 points apiece. Anthony Morrow was also a factor off the bench with nine points. OKC shot 53.5 percent from the field and 45.5 percent (15-33) from behind the arc.
Gary Harris led the Nuggets in scoring with 17 points while Emmanuel Mudiay added 15 points.
Denver radio suggested this maybe Nuggets worst performance of the year. Thunder up 30! #News9Thunder— Steve McGehee (@SteveMcGehee) April 6, 2016
Denver radio suggested this maybe Nuggets worst performance of the year. Thunder up 30! #News9Thunder
OKC has a quick turnaround as they head up to Portland for another divisional matchup against the Blazers at 9 p.m. on Wednesday night.