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01/16/2013 11:39 PM EST
Thunder snap Nuggets' win streak, 117-97
OKLAHOMA CITY 117, DENVER 97
By JEFF LATZKE
AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Not even halfway through the first quarter,
Russell Westbrook had already provided a showcase of his
All-Star array of talents.
Pushing the pace to earn free throws, getting inside for a
layup, popping a mid-range jumper, he had done it all. And the
Denver Nuggets were never able to answer.
Westbrook scored half of his 32 points in the opening quarter
and the Oklahoma City Thunder went wire-to-wire for a 117-97
victory Wednesday night, snapping Denver's six-game winning
"What can you do?" All-Star teammate Kevin Durant said. "He's
shooting the jump shot. If you pressure him, then he goes to the
rim. It's like a nightmare when he's making that jump shot.
"So, hopefully he continues to keep making it. ... These last
few games, he's been really good at scoring the basketball and
taking the pressure off everybody else."
Westbrook's monster first quarter followed a season-best 36
points in Oklahoma City's last game Monday night at Phoenix. And
this time, he needed only three quarters to do his damage.
The Thunder pulled their starters with a 25-point edge heading
into the fourth quarter. It was only the second wire-to-wire win
of the season for Oklahoma City, which has a league-best 31-8
Denver was riding its longest winning streak of the season, but
needed overtime to beat Portland only a night earlier and never
could match Oklahoma City's energy.
"There's always those three or four or five games a year that
you can't get it going, and tonight we couldn't get it going,"
coach George Karl said. "And you're playing maybe the best team
Durant and Kevin Martin each scored 20 points for the Thunder.
Durant also matched his career best with five steals.
Kosta Koufos had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead the
Nuggets, who fell to 3-6 this season in the second game of a
"We knew these guys were coming on a back-to-back, playing
overtime last night, so we just wanted to get into them and make
them make quick decisions with the ball," Durant said.
Westbrook hit six of his first eight shots and had 16 points in
the first 10 minutes, with the Thunder continuously pulling
away. Oklahoma City scored the first seven points of the game
and also had a pair of 8-0 spurts in the first quarter while
getting out to a 34-18 lead.
"I come into the game confident, honestly, and I just come out
and take the shots that's given to me," Westbrook said.
It wasn't until after Nick Collison's two-handed dunk stretched
the advantage to 45-23 in the first 3 minutes of the second
quarter before Karl finally spent a timeout. The Nuggets never
got closer than 17 after that.
"We didn't have a good offensive game, we didn't have a good
defensive game, we didn't have a good energy game. They seemed
to be the hungry team from the very beginning," Karl said.
"Their studs got into the game at a high level very early and
scored a lot of points. We never got into our flow."
Denver had won after trailing in the fourth quarter or overtime
in its previous four games, but dug too big of a hole to mount a
comeback this time.
The Nuggets scored 11 straight points immediately after Oklahoma
City pulled Martin, its top reserve, and put him on the bench
alongside the starters. That still only cut the deficit to
It was the fifth straight win for Oklahoma City in its only home
game between sweeping a three-game West Coast road and heading
back out for six more away from Chesapeake Energy Arena.
"We're greedy," Durant said. "In this league, you've got to be
greedy. Just as quickly as you can win four or five in a row,
you can lose four or five. You never can be complacent."
JaVale McGee had a couple of highlight-reel dunks among 15
points for Denver. Andre Iguodala scored 12 and Danilo Gallinari
11. The Nuggets had 21 turnovers, one shy of their worst total
of the season.
The Northwest Division rivals will play again Sunday in Denver.
Reserve Wilson Chandler, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in the
Nuggets' overtime win against Portland on Tuesday night, did not
Serge Ibaka returned to the Oklahoma City lineup after missing
the past two games with a chest contusion and had five points,
six rebounds and five blocks in 26 minutes.
NOTES: Asked before the game who should be the Nuggets' All-Star
candidates, Karl said backup point guard Andre Miller has been
the team's MVP so far. ... Oklahoma City corralled an offensive
rebound on nine of its first 16 missed shots. ... The Thunder
scored 67 points in the first half. Their season-high for
first-half scoring was 68 against Houston on Dec. 29. ...
Oklahoma City reserve Nick Collison sprained his right ankle in
the first half and did not return.
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