The last half of the fourth quarter, the Thunder couldn’t buy a bucket. They couldn’t even borrow one. And so it was that the Denver Nuggets put together a 22-5 run over the last seven minutes and odd to grab the win at Oklahoma City, 98-94.
The Thunder shot a couple of ticks better than the Nuggets, but were hopeless (1-14) on the long ball, and Denver controlled the boards, 50-41. Chauncey Billups was fearsome, scoring 31, and Carmelo Anthony was, well, Carmelo Anthony, logging a double-double (24 points, 11 boards). Fortunately, sharpshooter sixth man J. R. Smith wasn’t making any treys, or it would have been a lot worse than it was.
Perhaps everyone was worn out. Kevin Durant put in nearly 45 minutes; he managed 33 points, but he was only 9-21 from the floor. (On the upside, he did reel in 11 rebounds.) Jeff Green doubled up — 11 points, 10 boards — and Russell Westbrook dropped in 21 points. But total production in the fourth quarter was a mere 14 points, with not so much as a single field goal in the last nine minutes.
The playoff shuffle: the Nuggets surge to second, the Jazz (who lost to Houston) drop to fifth, and the Spurs, playing at Phoenix, remain in sixth. Whether the Thunder drops to eighth depends on whether Portland can dispatch the Clippers later tonight. (Assume they can.)
Next game: the Suns, on Friday. Still not getting any easier.