It was a busy day for the Denver Nuggets. Their big-ticket big man, Nene, was sent to Washington in exchange for JaVale McGee, and they finally agreed to bring Wilson Chandler back on a long-term contract. None of that happened quickly enough to benefit them on Thursday night, though, and the short-handed Nuggets were no match for the Western Conference's best team, the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder got hot from outside and dominated the third quarter to beat Denver, 103-90.
Oklahoma City appeared to have the game in hand relatively early. Behind 10 points from Kevin Durant, eight points from Russell Westbrook and 57 percent shooting as a team, they built a four-point lead in the first quarter. They ran that lead up to double-digits in the second until Denver made a massive run of their own.
Down 44-32 in the middle of the second quarter, Denver unleashed a 19-3 run to come all the way back. Danilo Gallinari drilled two three-pointers during the run, and the rest of the Nuggets chipped away at the deficit by grabbing offensive rebounds, pushing out in transition and getting to the free throw line. Denver erased the difference in a matter of minutes and actually held a 51-50 lead going into halftime.
Both teams came out cold to start the second half, but the Thunder eventually got rolling, while the Nuggets stayed icy. Durant added nine more points to his total in the third quarter, and Denver scored just 14 points as a team. That third quarter pretty much made the difference, as the Thunder were able to maintain their lead in the fourth with three-point shooting and some friendly contributions from Nick Collison.
The major edge for Oklahoma City came from downtown, which shot 12-25 as a team, vastly eclipsing Denver's 5-22 outside effort. James Harden and Daequan Cook led the way in that department, combining for 7-12 three-point shooting off the bench. Durant and Westbrook led the team in scoring with 24 and 23 points, respectively, while Denver was led by Andre Miller's 17 points off the bench.
Oklahoma City moved to 33-10 overall with the win, while Denver fell to 24-20 with the loss.