The Oklahoma City Thunder (38-22) dropped the season series to the Nuggets (42-18) on Tuesday night in Denver, as Nikola Jokic posted a game-high 36 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists in the 121-112 final score. Denver converted on 46.4 percent of their attempts from downtown, out-rebounded OKC, and led by as many as 18 in the game. Paul George paced the Thunder with 25 points (7/24 FG, 3/14 3P), eight rebounds, seven assists, and six steals, but OKC shot 10-of-38 (26.3%) from three-point range and missed nine free throws as their furious fourth quarter rally came up short.
The Thunder’s deficit reached double-digits in the first half, and OKC was down 13 to open the fourth quarter. The Thunder responded with a 22-6 run to briefly take the lead on a Russell Westbrook three with 6:02 remaining — their first lead since the midway point of the second quarter.
With the Thunder in front after Westbrook’s three, Denver quickly got back to work — retaking the lead less than a minute later on a three from Jamal Murray. Though it remained relatively close from that point forward, Jokic was too much down the stretch, as the All-Star center scored nine points in the fourth — including 7-of-10 from the free throw line — to put it away for Denver. OKC shot just 2-of-8 as a team in the final six minutes as the comeback attempt fizzled out.
George’s 25 led the Thunder, followed by Westbrook’s 22 points (8/14 FG, 2/5 3P, 4/8 FT), 14 rebounds, and nine assists. OKC also got a nice night from Jerami Grant, who contributed 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Steven Adams scored 15 in the first half, but failed to score after halftime. Dennis Schroder rounded out the double-digit scorers with 11 points on 5-of-17 from the field.
With Denver up 3-0 in the season series, they control the tie-breaker should it become important in the final playoff seedings. They now lead the third-place Thunder by four games in the West.