As a team that forces the Oklahoma City Thunder to play at its highest level, the Denver Nuggets brought a playoff-like atmosphere to the Pepsi Center on Tuesday night defeating the Thunder 121-112.
The Thunder started off pushing the pace nicely, utilizing guys like Steven Adams to pick up early points in the paint, and getting crucial stops to the Nuggets’ dominant offensive force in Nikola Jokić. But the Nuggets took an 18-point lead as the first half came to a close, and the Thunder were forced into the locker room facing a 64-51 deficit.
OKC came out strong to start the third quarter where Russell Westbrook and Paul George kicked things off with back-to-back 3’s giving the Thunder an 8-0 run, and the Thunder, with the help of Nerlens Noel guarding the perimeter and staying aggressive, was even able to find the lead at 103-100 with just under six minutes to go in the game.
Denver came out clawing giving OKC work they couldn’t handle, and in the end, the Nuggets were the more dominant players on the court.
- Paul George had a quiet and unimpressive night going 3-14 from downtown, but he did outscore every other Thunder player on the night finishing with 25 and going 8-8 from the charity stripe. This is not the end for Paul George. People tend to forget that just two games earlier (Utah vs. Thunder), he was the one with the incredible floater over Rudy Gobert to seal the deal for the Thunder in double overtime. I think PG will finish the season strong and continue to contribute where he is best on the floor. Games like these for star players are bound to happen, and there is nothing to panic about.
- Denver was just the better team tonight. Nikola Jokić joked in his postgame presser that he found the thunderous MVP chants he received during Tuesday night’s game to be funny because he thinks there are more talented and deserving players out there for the award. He just wants to help his team win, and that’s exactly what he did. He finished the night with 36 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists, and 1 block. He’s incredible ball smart and capable of carrying this Nuggets team even though he is backed up with incredible talent, such as Paul Millsap, Jamal Murray, and Will Barton. Denver was just the better team during Tuesday night’s matchup with the Thunder, and that’s something the Thunder will have to adjust to if this matchup makes an appearance in postseason.
- The Thunder is a team full of fighters. This team has yet to be blown off the court despite facing some ugly losses this season. None of those losses were bad blowouts, and that’s something Thunder fans should take pride in. This team fights until the end, and sometimes a win just isn’t attainable, but they never once leave the court with an embarrassing blowout. This team will fight through anything, and that will be beneficial when every game being played has the energy and atmosphere Nuggets fans brought to the Pepsi Center.
The Thunder now fall to 38-22, while the Nuggets advance to 42-18 in the regular season. The Thunder will return to Oklahoma City to host the Philadelphia 76ers without Joel Embiid as he continues to rehab for his sore left knee. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Thursday night.
Watch below for a full postgame wrap-up from Denver with postgame pressers from Markieff Morris, Nerlens Noel, and Russell Westbrook, as well as Billy Donovan’s full postgame presser.
Billy Donovan FULL postgame presser: