Just try that at the Pepsi Center in Denver. The Thunder, despite a late run, never quite caught up with the Nuggets after falling behind in the second quarter; the final was 102-93.
George Karl only played eight tonight, and he really didn’t need any more; Carmelo Anthony burnished his No. 1 Scorer credentials with a 31-point performance, and the Nuggets’ bench weapons, J. R. Smith and Chris Andersen, had 19 and 15 respectively. The Birdman also had 11 rebounds to get another punch in his double-double card. The Nuggets did not shoot particularly well, at 40 percent, but they got 34 of 40 from the charity stripe.
The percentages, in fact, were pretty even: the Thunder shot 39.2 percent and 26 of 31 free throws. OKC got one more board: 41-40. The Thunder had seven steals and blocked nine shots; the Nuggets had 10 steals and seven blocks. Kevin Durant actually snuck up slightly on ‘Melo, with 32 points (and ten boards); Jeff Green was held to 8, but Nick Collison, off the bench, was good for 14. I’m starting to wonder if the major factor for the Thunder is “How’s Jeff?”
He’d better be good for Wednesday night against the Mavericks. The Pistons will be in town Friday, after which there’s a quick flight to Houston for the third go-round with the Rockets. At 12-11, the Thunder really need to win at least two of these.