Nuggets top Thunder for 13th consecutive win

Michael Kinney, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OKLAHOMA CITY -- With the Miami Heat taking up all the media coverage due to their 23-game winning streak, the Denver Nuggets escaped attention despite riding a winning streak of its own.
The Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-104 Tuesday to extend their run to 13 games, reasserting themselves as the team no one wants to face in the postseason.
"We are hot," Denver coach George Karl said, "and we know the momentum of a hot team can go away as quickly. But the depth of our team and versatility of our team and how we figure out how to play and who is going to be the guy every night, can't deny it's a lot of fun to coach."
The streak is the Nuggets' longest since a franchise-record 15-game run in the ABA in 1969-70. Denver has beaten the defending Western Conference champion Thunder in three of four meetings this season.
"It's still March," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "They outplayed us tonight, but we still have time to get better. They are a good team. They are playing as well as any team in this league. "
The Nuggets (47-22) led by as many as 13 points in the second half before the Thunder cut the lead to 102-97 with less than four minutes left. After getting a stop, Oklahoma City (50-18) had an opportunity to cut the deficit to three points or two on consecutive trips, but Kevin Durant was called for a charge, and Thabo Sefolosha missed a layup.
Denver's Kenneth Faried hit one of two at the foul line before Andre Miller made a jump shot to put Nuggets up 105-97.
Oklahoma City's Reggie Jackson missed a 3-point attempt, and Miller made the Thunder pay with another jumper in the paint. Denver led by 10 with 1:29 left and was able to hold on from there.
"It was a good gut check to come in here on a back-to-back (and an) overtime," Miller said, referring to the Nuggets' one-point win over the Bulls on Monday in Chicago. "They were here waiting for us. It was a tough game. We found a way to stick it through."
The Nuggets had six players score in double figures. Ty Lawson scored 25 points, and Miller posted 20 points and handed out nine assists. Danilo Gallinari and Faried each scored 13, Corey Brewer added 11 points and four steals, and Andre Iguodala had 10 points. Faried also contributed 15 rebounds.
Durant led all scorers with 34 points on 10-for-23 shooting. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and six turnovers. Thunder guard Russell Westbrook added 25 points and six assists, but he scored only seven points in the second half. Kevin Martin came off the Oklahoma City bench to post 14 points.
"We fought," Durant said. "It's easy to fall into that trap of playing their game. That's what they do. They get up and down the court. Our game is a little different. We want to run off our defense. Those guys run off makes, misses and turnovers. We fell into the trap. We couldn't play that game with them."
Karl anticipated the Thunder would come out the gates attacking. He was correct. Oklahoma City shot nearly 60 percent from the field while taking a 34-26 advantage after the first quarter.
The Thunder pushed the lead to 10 points before Denver stormed back behind the play of its bench. Led by Wilson Chandler, JaVale McGee, Brewer and Miller, the Nuggets' reserves outscored Oklahoma City's reserves 28-16. Denver trailed 66-65 at halftime.
The Nuggets began the third quarter on a 15-4 run. They got their transition offense rolling, and Oklahoma City's defense couldn't keep up. Even when Denver slowed the ball down, the Nuggets had too many scoring options for Oklahoma City to focus on.
Denver took control of the game when it started to control the backboards. After a trailing Oklahoma City 14-6 in rebounding, the Nuggets outrebounded the Thunder 46-31 the rest of the way. Thunder forward Serge Ibaka ended the night with only two rebounds. He didn't get his first board until midway through the third period.
"It's very obvious that when we outrebound teams, we usually win," Brooks said. "The numbers speak for themselves. They play an aggressive brand of basketball. You can't get on your heels. You have to hit first and then rebound."
NOTES: The 131 combined points scored at halftime was a season high for a Thunder game. ... The Thunder were been selected as a nominee in the "Sports Team of the Year" category for the 2013 Sports Business Awards, presented by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. Their competition includes the Washington Nationals, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Sounders. ... Denver has owned the paint this season as it leads the NBA with an average of 57.6 points scored in the key. The Nuggets have scored 60 points 28 times heading into Tuesday. ... The Thunder have reached the 50-win plateau for the third time in the past four seasons. Kevin Durant and Nick Collison are the only members of the team who were around when they were the Seattle Supersonics and won only 20 games its last year in Seattle. "We had 40 wins in two seasons, and now we have 50 wins almost every year," Durant said. "So that's a blessing and shows how much we've grown as an organization." ... The Rev. Jesse Jackson attended Tuesday's game. It was his first time at the Chesapeake Energy Arena for a Thunder game.

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