The Thunder fell flat on Saturday night in Oklahoma City, as the Denver Nuggets took a 105-98 victory in front of fans at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Paul George led the way for OKC with 24 points and 11 rebounds — and five Thunder players scored in double-figures — but the Nuggets established a double-digit lead in the first quarter and maintained it for most of the evening.
Despite the Thunder getting as close as five in the fourth quarter, this one never felt in question for the Nuggets. They led by 10 after the first quarter, then held the Thunder to 6-of-23 shooting in the second en route to a commanding 63-42 halftime advantage. Though OKC would cut the Nuggets’ lead to 13 headed into the fourth and made things interesting in the final minutes, the inspired rally proved to be too little, too late.
The Thunder are off until Wednesday, when they’ll take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oklahoma City. That game tips off at 7:00 PM CST and will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma.
Paul George: 24 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast, 2 stl, 3 blk, 8/21 FG, 3/6 3P, -1
Russell Westbrook: 16 pts, 10 reb, 12 ast, 6/23 FG, 1/12 3P, -3
Bad Russ. Though Westbrook recorded his second triple-double of the season, this game was downright terrible for the former MVP. He needed 23 shots to reach 16 total points — and he shot an abysmal 1-of-12 from downtown. When you factor in the five turnovers, it was another forgettable night for Westbrook.
The Other Guys. Jamal Murray paced the Nuggets with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. Four other Nuggets reached double-figures, including Nikola Jokic (16), Trey Lyles (16), Juancho Hernangomez (15), and Mason Plumlee (11). Gary Harris did not play due to injury.
Poor Offense. The Thunder shot 41.8 percent in the second half — outscoring Denver 56-42 after halftime. However, the team shot just 35.9 percent on the night, went 9-of-39 (23.1 percent) from downtown, and hit just 65 percent of their free throws. A lot of this can be attributed to Westbrook’s inefficiencies, but it was a definite step back after two consecutive victories.
Moving On. Not a great night in Oklahoma City — particularly disappointing against a divisional opponent. Luckily for the Thunder, they’ll get a few days to prepare for Wednesday’s contest against the Cavs — and then get the Hawks, Pistons, Nets, and Bulls immediately after that. The upcoming stretch should allow for the exorcism of some demons, starting with Westbrook and his shot selection. His 11 attempts from long range were very difficult to watch.