Back-to-backs are hard enough. But when you're playing up near the clouds, it's flat-out brutal.
The Thunder dropped a 107-100 decision to the Nuggets on Wednesday night in the Mile-High City, marking their second loss in two days while playing in a combined 9,500+ feet of elevation.
The shorthanded Thunder did get Andre Roberson back, but the wear and tear from the back-to-back appeared to be too much. Nick Collison's 3-ball with 8:56 to play in the second quarter put Oklahoma City up 36-32, but it was downhill from there... at least for a while. Denver answered with a 12-2 run and seized control.
The Nuggets held a five-point lead at the half and wore the Thunder down in the third quarter. Similarly to Tuesday night in Utah where OKC allowed 32 third-quarter points to the Jazz, the Thunder's defense abandoned them to start the second half. Denver poured in 34 in the third and extended its lead to 14 going into the fourth.
But unlike Tuesday night, Oklahoma City clawed its way back in. After cutting the deficit to 101-94 with a little less than four to play, the Thunder really tightened things up. OKC got a free throw from Collison and a 3-ball from Ibaka and all the sudden it was a three-point game.
In the end, though, Denver's shooters prevailed. Wilson Chandler and Aaron Afflalo answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to end any doubts.
This loss definitely wasn't on Sebastian Telfair. The reserve guard poured in 18 points on a perfect 7-7 from the floor. Reggie Jackson, the starter, scored 16 points but shot just 5-20.
Serge Ibaka bounced back nicely from a poor performance in Utah. Ibaka led OKC with 22 points and a season-high 13 rebounds. Anthony Morrow chipped in 10 off the Thunder bench while Roberson finished with just three points in seven minutes.
Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 15 points and 15 assists. Wilson Chandler was the Nuggets' top scorer, dropping 21 points on 8-15 shooting while grabbing nine rebounds. Timofey Mozgov added 17 points on 6-7 from the floor while Afflalo chipped in 13.
The Nuggets outscored OKC 46-32 in the paint but the Thunder's impressive 3-point shooting kept them in the game. Telfair drained all four of his deep balls as OKC hit 10-23 (44 percent) from downtown.
Denver improved to 4-7 with the win while the Thunder (3-10) became the third team this season to reach the 10-loss mark. Only Philadelphia (0-11) and the Knicks (3-10) did it faster. Oklahoma City also fell to 1-7 on the road. Last season, OKC didn't lose its eighth road game until February. The Thunder won't have a chance for No. 8 until Dec. 2 at the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Brooklyn Nets visit Oklahoma City on Friday.