If I were running this team, I thought, I’d take out all my frustrations on the unsuspecting Nuggets. Well, I’m not running this team, and there are very good reasons why I’m not, but this advice seemed obvious enough, and the Thunder did exactly that to Denver tonight, getting a sweep of the four-game season series with the Nuggets to the tune of 124-102. It didn’t look like that in the first quarter, with Denver down only two thanks to a D. J. Augustin 70-foot (!) bank shot at the buzzer. The second, however, brought an 18-0 run, and the Thunder never looked back.
Still, any game in which both Billy Donovan and Nazr Mohammed are rung up for technical fouls is at least slightly weird. Mike Malone decided to hand out some DNP-CDs to starters and give the bench a chance, which probably didn’t help the Nuggets’ chances, and while it makes a certain amount of sense to rest the A-team before playing the Spurs, that Spurs game is three days away. But hey, it’s the end of the season, and for 14 of 30 teams, Denver included, it might as well be preseason, amirite? The Nuggets’ twin guards, Gary Harris and Emmanuel Mudiay, did pretty well, though Joffrey Lauvergne, the only non-minus on the Denver plus/minus card, squeaked out a double-double from the, um, bench. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook was adding to his list of triple-doubles, this one a few degrees out of phase: 13-14-12. Yes, Kevin Durant got his 20, for the thousandth game in a row; yes, Enes Kanter led the reserves with another double-double. So maybe this game wasn’t so weird after all.
Third place in the West is now clinched. Had this been the season finale, the Thunder would be playing the sixth-place Trail Blazers in the first post-season round. As it happens, the Thunder are playing the sixth-place Trail Blazers in Game 79, tomorrow night. Really weird things can happen in Portland. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers have failed to make history by winning their 10th game out of 78, thereby insuring they will finish at least one game better than the 1972-73 Sixers, who went 9-73. (We won’t mention
the Pelicans the team they beat.)