The Denver Nuggets scored 40 points in the first quarter, 72 in the first half, and took a 15-point lead into the final 12 minutes. On a night they shot 51.5 percent from the floor and canned 15 three-pointers, their victory long felt like a foregone conclusion. Paul George was intent on making it more interesting than that.
Despite being down by as many as 20, the Thunder outscored Denver by 12 in the fourth quarter to truly make a game of it. George scored a season-high 43 points, hitting 19/26 from the floor and 5/8 from downtown. His biggest shot of the night came with the Thunder down three in the final seconds, as he hit a difficult three-pointer to force the game’s first tie since 0-0.
Unfortunately, 1.4 seconds remained.
After a timeout, the Nuggets had a side out with a chance to win the game. Here’s everything that goes down on the play:
A. Nikola Jokic hits the side-shuffle while trying to inbound the basketball
B. Russ lets his man (Gary Harris) curl to the perimeter by his lonesome
C. Wilson Chandler trucks Jerami Grant out of the play
D. Gary Harris, still by himself, catches and does this:
Ballgame. Nuggets win 127-124.
Jamal Murray went for 33 points, Jokic posted a 29-13-14 triple-double, and Harris, the hero, had 25 points of his own. The Nuggets’ offense was unstoppable for three quarters, often getting wide open looks from all over the floor.
OKC was led by George’s 43 points, Russell Westbrook had 20 points, 21 assists, and 9 rebounds, and Jerami Grant added 18 points. The Thunder shot 52 percent from the floor for the game, but its defense failed far too many times to come out on top. The record falls to 30-22 ahead of tomorrow night’s game against the Pelicans.
76.5: The Thunder shot 13/17 (76.5 percent) from the line. Russell Westbrook took four free throws — no other starter made it to the line. Seriously.
43-40: The Nuggets outrebounded the Thunder 43-40, including 9-9 on the offensive glass.
34: The Thunder had 34 assists in this one — second-best of the season. (Westbrook had 21 of them)
7: The Thunder only turned the ball over seven times.
66-48: The Thunder won 66-48 in the paint.
15-9: The difference came from beyond the arc. Denver hit 15 long balls on a 39.5 clip, OKC hit 9 on 32.1 percent.
The Ghost of Andre
It goes without saying but tonight was a great example of how badly this team misses/will miss Andre Roberson. The Nuggets torched the Thunder defense, saw open looks all night, and got 58 points out of its back court. There’s a whole lot of people who owe him a whole lot of apologies.
PG13 was superb in the loss, dropping a season-high 43 points and staying aggressive after halftime. His final line:
George: 43 pts, 5 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl, 19/26 FG, 5/8 3P
The Thunder had no business getting back in this game, but George had a monster hand in it. His game-tying shot with 1.4 to go was pretty awesome, albeit all for naught. His full highlights:
Jerami Grant. Jerami Grant had 18 points on 6/9 shooting. He was a big part of the Thunder comeback, as he used three-consecutive trips to the line to steal some momentum back at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Can’t depend on this consistently but he had it going.
Melo & Steve. Carmelo Anthony finished with 10 points on 5/11 shooting. Steven Adams had 10 points and 8 rebounds, but got the worse end of the Nikola Jokic match-up. He was also crossed by Jamal Murray and fell to the floor — a replay I’m unwilling to link to due to my respect for him.
Ferguson leaves early. Terrance Ferguson left after four minutes due to what was considered a stomach bug. Alex Abrines would replace him and go on to log 29 minutes, scoring 13 points on 4/7 shooting.
Westbrook’s defense. Russ left his man far too many times tonight. The last one hurt the most, but it was far from the only time it happened. Jamal Murray gave him work with 33 points on 14/23 shooting — 5/8 from downtown.
Russ/Fan incident: Immediately after the buzzer-beater, a Nuggets fan walked onto the court and began screaming in Russell Westbrook’s face. Westbrook then shoved the gentleman before he was escorted out. Can’t imagine Adam Silver loves it, but there’s no reason the guy should have been there anyway. Not expecting anything of it.