Page last updated on Sun Dec 21 14:24:41 EST 2014
03/20/2013 2:24 AM EDT
Nuggets 114, Thunder 104

AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Andre Miller isn't known for voicing his
opinion. So when the veteran point guard started talking, the
Denver Nuggets listened.

A big performance on his 37th birthday started with an
inspirational speech and finished with Miller's play doing all
the talking for him.

Miller scored 13 of his season-best 20 points in the fourth
quarter, and the Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-104
Tuesday night for their first 13-game winning streak since
joining the NBA.

"He's a coach and a teacher and a veteran, and he does it every
day in a very classy way, a very quiet way," coach George Karl
said. "And then he can do what he did tonight, where he can take
the most talented team maybe in the NBA and be the best player
on the court for the last 6 minutes of the game."

Denver took control just after halftime, building a 13-point
lead and then holding off the Thunder as they got back within
102-97 after Russell Westbrook's 17-foot jumper from the left
elbow with 4:08 to play. Karl put Miller back in the game at the
next stoppage, and the 13-year veteran was a stabilizing force.

Miller had back-to-back jumpers as Denver answered right back
with five straight points, and he went five for six at the foul
line in the final 69 seconds to close it out.

Denver's previous longest winning streak since the 1976 ABA-NBA
merger was 12 straight in 1982. The franchise won 15 in a row in
the 1969-70 ABA season.

"It's cool. I'm sure a lot of people didn't think we would get
this game, but we talked about having some pride, working hard
and practicing," Miller said. "We put in a lot of work to get to
this point, so at least we came out and gave a good effort and
it paid off."

Ty Lawson led Denver with 25 points. Miller also had nine
assists and seven rebounds in 23 effective minutes.

Kevin Durant had 34 points and Westbrook chipped in 25 for
Oklahoma City, which fell to 30-5 at home this season.

The Thunder gave up a season-worst 72 points in the paint -
Denver's specialty - as both teams struggled throughout the game
from 3-point range.

The Nuggets trailed by 10 early in the second quarter, but then
dictated the tenor of the game the rest of the way.

"It's easy to fall into that trap. That's what they do. They get
up and down the court," Durant said. "Our game is a little
different. We want to run, but we want to run off our defense.

"Those guys run off of makes, misses of course and turnovers,
but they continually run and pass the ball well and they score a
lot in the paint. We fell into the trap and we couldn't play
that game with them."

The Nuggets, who average an NBA-best 57.8 points in the paint,
had 66 and 60 in that category in wins against Oklahoma City in
Denver earlier this season.

"I'm sure they talked about keeping us out of the paint. They
like to get to the paint and the free-throw line. It was just a
battle of the wills, and we figured out how to play some defense
in the second half, and that led to more paint points," said

Kenneth Faried said Miller spoke to the team before the game for
the first time all season, preaching that there should be no
excuses after a 109-108 overtime victory a night earlier in

"Andre Miller is a guy who doesn't really say too much. ... When
he talks, and he talks to the rest of us, everybody listens,"
Faried said. "Nobody's playing around. Everybody listens,
everybody locks in and is focused."

Denver moved within 3 1/2 games of the Thunder in the Northwest
Division and became the first team this season to beat Oklahoma
City three times. It's also a big win in the chase for
home-court advantage in the playoffs for Denver, which is tied
with Miami for the NBA's best home record at 30-3 and using the
win streak to try and edge out the Los Angeles Clippers and
Memphis in a tight race.

"I don't know where it ranks in NBA history, but it's a good
run," said Karl, who won 14 in a row with Seattle in 1996. "I
don't want to get too happy about it because we have a job to do
and we have a challenge. It's to move in to get home court.
There's no question that the brand of basketball that we're
playing is growing and maturing, and our confidence is growing
with it."

The Nuggets trailed 66-65 at halftime, but took the lead on
Danilo Gallinari's 3-pointer and then followed Westbrook's
tying, two-handed dunk off an inbound alley-oop pass by charging
ahead with a 12-2 run. Andre Iguodala's right-handed, fast-break
slam - created by Gallinari's steal - put Denver up 80-70 midway
through the third and prompted Scott Brooks' second timeout to
try and end the surge.

After back-to-back Thunder baskets, the Nuggets added to their
cushion with seven straight points - a Lawson 3-pointer, a Corey
Brewer jumper and then an 18-footer by Lawson - to make it 87-74
with 2:59 left in the third.

The Nuggets had six players score in double figures, getting 13
apiece from Faried and Gallinari, 11 from Brewer and 10 from
Iguodala. Faried also grabbed 15 rebounds as Denver overcame a
14-6 first-quarter rebounding deficit to beat Oklahoma City
52-45 on the glass.

Wilson Chandler, who tied his career-high with 35 points in a
win at Chicago a night earlier, did not return after separating
his left shoulder in the fourth quarter. Karl called it a
"slight" separation and also said Lawson aggravated a heel
injury. Both are considered day-to-day.

Kevin Martin had 14 points off the bench for Oklahoma City and
Kendrick Perkins had 11 rebounds, but did not play over the
final 18 minutes as Denver build up its big rebounding edge.

The Nuggets were 4 for 21 from 3-point range, only slightly
better than Oklahoma City's 4 for 25.

"The first time us meeting, they blew us out and it wasn't even
close. They really was taunting and all the, I guess,
disrespectful stuff and we got upset about that," Faried said.
"Tonight, I really wanted to come out and prove that, hey, we
can compete with y'all and actually, we're better."

Notes: Karl drew a technical foul in the second quarter for
complaining to official Marat Kogut after Lawson was called for
his third foul against Durant's "rip move," when he swings the
ball through a defender's arms. ... Denver's winning streak is
the third-longest in the NBA this season, behind Miami's current
23-game run and the Los Angeles Clippers' 17-game streak.
Oklahoma City won 12 straight earlier in the season. ... The
Heat and San Antonio are the only other teams to beat Oklahoma
City twice this season.

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