Hully crap. The Nuggets were up 18 in the third quarter; with 6:45 left in the fourth, Dennis Schröder, who’d had a modest eight points, tossed up a trey to tie it, and shortly thereafter, Russell Westbrook tossed up another one to put OKC up three. Denver, as Denver will, went on a 5-0 run to reclaim the lead. Paul Millsap, seemingly everywhere, engineered the Nugget run, and the first casualty was Nerlens Noel, who’d been doing good work on Nikola Jokić, who fouled out late. Down to 1:15, and the Nuggets were up six again; down to :55, and Denver was up eight. At the last Thunder timeout, Denver led by eleven, and by then, it was obviously over. Over the last two seasons, the Nuggets have won five straight from OKC; this season, they’ve opened up a four-game lead over the Thunder, with 22 to play. Denver 121, Oklahoma City 112, and, well, you could see it coming.
Two Denver double-doubles, one from Jokić, who was one rebound short of a triple-double, 36-9-10, and one from Millsap, 12-10. will Barton came up with 23, and Jamal Murray with 20. Paul George twisted the dials the farthest for OKC, with 25 points on 24 shots. Westbrook posted 22-14-9; Jerami Grant tallied 20. The Thunder did okay in getting two points at a time, but were behind the curve for one (16-25 free throws) or three (10-38 treys).
As if to remind us who has the hardest schedule the rest of the way, the 76ers will be in Thursday. The Sixers are 39-22. (The Thunder, should you ask, is 38-22.) It won’t get easier, folks.