Backhanded on the Front Range

Will Barton? Injured. Gary Harris? Injured. Paul Millsap? You get the idea. Not that the Nuggets had a whole lot to worry about; the Thunder, as radio guy Matt Pinto said in the waning moments, are not playing well enough to beat quality opposition on the road. Sometimes when the offense is wonky, the defense can save the day, but probably not this defense. Denver shot a solid 51 percent, missed only one free throw, led in rebounds (48-43) and assists (a startling 29-14). Add to this an unproductive OKC bench (only 14 points, 11 of them from Dennis Schröder) and a bad night for Russell Westbrook (13 points on 5-15 shooting), and you start wondering how the Nuggets won this by only 109-98.

And this, mind you, despite a zingy second half from Paul George (32 points), a season high from Steven Adams (26 points and 14 boards). Look at the charity stripe. As noted, the Nuggets missed one (14-15). The Thunder missed twelve (17-29). There’s your 11 points right there.

Meanwhile, Nikola Jokić approached the Land of the Triple-Double, with 24 points, 15 rebounds and nine dimes. And there was Torrey Craig, who’d made three treys so far this season: he got three more tonight. Usually this is where the Thunder go astray, jacking up the long ball left and right. Tonight they took only 19, but only seven went in. (Denver was 11-34, a technically lower percentage.)

Lou Williams has not been seen lately, and the Clippers are suffering as a result. They’ll be in OKC tomorrow night. But you gotta wonder if the Thunder are playing well enough to beat quality opposition at home.

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