Nuggets-Thunder Preview


The Denver Nuggets survived a close call their last time out to keep their winning streak alive.

They're likely to have their hands full again in Oklahoma City.

On the verge of its longest run in 43 seasons, Denver goes for a 13th consecutive victory Tuesday night against the Thunder.

The Nuggets (46-22) have outscored opponents by an average of 11.3 points during their 12-game surge, tied for their longest since joining the NBA in 1976-77. Denver hasn't won 13 in a row since a franchise-record 15-game run in the ABA in 1969-70.

The Nuggets found themselves in trouble Monday before escaping with a 119-118 overtime win at Chicago. Bulls center Joakim Noah tapped in a shot from teammate Marco Belinelli with 1.7 seconds to go in OT, but referees reviewed video and disallowed the basket due to offensive goaltending.

Wilson Chandler matched a career high with 35 points off the bench and Andre Iguodala made what proved to be the game-winning 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds left in the extra session.

"I'm proud of the way we stayed strong," said coach George Karl, whose team led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter. "This was a difficult mental game because we let go of a lead in regulation where we should have won it."

The Nuggets figure to face an even tougher test against the Thunder (50-17), who have strung together 20 consecutive home wins over fellow Western Conference teams by an average of 17.0 points.

Oklahoma City has put up 112.0 per game in taking four of five from Denver at home, including a 117-97 victory Jan. 16. The Nuggets, though, have won the last two meetings, both on their own court.

After beating the Thunder 121-118 in overtime Jan. 20, Denver pulled out a 105-103 win March 1 thanks to Ty Lawson's jumper with 0.2 seconds left. Chandler shot 6 of 7 from 3-point range and finished with 35 points that night as the Nuggets' reserves outscored Oklahoma City's bench 71-11.

"That's a great asset to have," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "That's one of the strengths of their team. They're deep, they have a lot of good players that play, a lot of skill players."

The Thunder are coming off their eighth win in nine games, 107-101 at Dallas on Sunday. Russell Westbrook had a game-high 35 points on 13-of-23 shooting and Kevin Durant scored 19 of his 31 in the fourth quarter. Serge Ibaka added 18 points and 16 rebounds.

"Everybody has to step up," Brooks told the team's official website. "Everybody has a role and they have to believe in that role and make the best of that role and embrace it. And they did that tonight. We had guys step up, whether it was setting the screen, going for a loose ball or getting the rebound for an extra possession."

Westbrook, who scored a season-high 38 points against the Nuggets earlier this month, is averaging 33.2 in six matchups with Denver since the start of last season. Durant has averaged 31.4 in his last 23 games in this series, including playoffs.

The Thunder will surely be looking to come out with a better defensive effort against Chandler this time around. The Nuggets are 11-1 when he scores at least 12 points.

"Anytime when we bring (Chandler) off the bench we seem to get an offensive spurt," Karl said. "I think he is our most efficient offensive person on the team."

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