It’s almost like the Thunder really didn’t want to defend the ferocious Denver scoring machine until they absolutely had to. It would explain much about how OKC, up eleven at one point in the first quarter, managed to fall behind by twelve — more than once — and then suddenly turned into a lean, mean, shot-blocking machine. With 17 seconds left, it was tied at 103; Ty Lawson, who was otherwise having a fairly crummy night, dropped in a jumper at the 0.2 mark, and that was it: Denver 105, Oklahoma City 103, giving the Nuggets a 2-1 lead in the season series.
Or you could look past that porous defense in the middle quarters and note that the Thunder threw ten points away at the stripe, hitting a mediocre 71 percent. (The Nuggets took half as many free throws, hit half as many, throwing five points away, hitting a mediocre 71 percent, but I repeat myself.) But here’s the figure to frighten: Andre Miller (14 points) outscored the entire OKC bench — and he wasn’t even Denver’s top-scoring reserve. That would be Wilson Chandler, who had a season-high 35, tying his career high; Corey Brewer tacked on 14 more. Now you can look at this from the other direction: the Denver starters had 34 points, Russell Westbrook had 38 all by his lonesome. Leading the starters was Lawson, with a mere eleven — but he got the two that mattered most.
For those of you who were concerned: Derek Fisher played only five minutes, which still was time enough to hoist two bricks.
Coming up: two tests of L.A. fitness, a Sunday-afternoon battle with the Clippers, followed by the return of the Lakers to OKC on Tuesday.