Decked out in their new sunset colored uniforms, the Thunder improved to 3-0 on the season after beating the Nuggets 117-93 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
After the Thunder relied too heavily on Durant and Westbrook in the double overtime win over Orlando on Friday, it was a total team effort on Sunday night as seven Thunder players scored in double digits.
It was a sluggish start for the Thunder early in the first quarter, but the second unit really came through to give OKC the momentum it desperately needed in the first half. Kevin Durant picked up his second foul with 4:27 left in the first frame which led to a Kyle Singler appearance a little bit earlier than normal. Singler provided a spark with three points, two rebounds and two blocks in his eight first-half minutes.
Leading the second unit was DJ Augustin, who totaled 11 points and three assists during the Thunder’s first half run. Augustin was facilitating like a seasoned veteran, and his energy lifted up the Thunder on this crisp fall evening. Also facilitating was Dion Waiters, who was another vital player off the bench during the Thunder’s first half surge and finished with 10 points and four assists.
Speaking of surge, Serge Ibaka had his best game of the season in the Thunder win, scoring 18 points to go with seven rebounds, five blocks and four assists. Ibaka stayed in the game with the second unit during the first half, and that was definitely a good coaching decision by Billy Donovan. When Ibaka’s clicking along with Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder are nearly impossible to defend.
Nuggets’ forward Danilo Gallinari was giving the Thunder fits early in the game with the long ball, but the Thunder perimeter defense really buckled down throughout the rest of the game led by Andre Roberson. Not known as a scorer, Roberson also contributed on the offensive side of the ball in the win with nine points.
After building up a 95-70 lead after three quarters, Donovan had the luxury of resting his starters throughout the entire fourth quarter. That rest should come in handy later this week as the Thunder play three games in the next four days.
Durant had an extremely efficient game, scoring 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting to go with five assists and two rebounds. Westbrook also had a stellar performance, and really put the game away early in the second half when he came out of intermission on a tear. The point guard scored 15 points to go with nine rebounds and seven assists, but Westbrook’s night was highlighted with a put back slam he had midway through the third quarter which erupted the home crowd.
OKC has scored at least 100 points in the first three games of the season, which had never been done before in the history of the franchise. While the offense was fluid, the defense was solid. OKC held the Nuggets to only 38 percent shooting on the night.
The Thunder will be back in action tomorrow night (Monday) when they take on the Rockets at the Toyota Center in Houston. Tip is set for 7 p.m.