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Denver goes to Oklahoma City, makes statement with 13th straight win

Mar 20, 2013, 12:04 AM EDT

Ty Lawson, Danilo Gallinari AP

I’m dubious about regular season games making postseason statements; there is too much evidence just from the last few years that the results of regular season games are poor predictors of a playoff series.

This win doesn’t mean the Nuggets will beat the Thunder in a playoff series. It means that they truly believe they can — and that is a very powerful thing.

A night after an emotional overtime win on the road, Denver went into the home of the reigning Western Conference champions and soundly beat the Thunder, 114-104. That would be Denver’s 13th straight win and they have taken three of four from the Thunder this season.

It was Denver’s most impressive win of the season. It was a night the Oklahoma City defense didn’t look good — they played at the Nuggets pace (104 possessions) which meant they allowed 107.8 points per 100 possessions (on the season they allow 99.7 overall and 98.5 at home).

That pace meant the first half of this game was about as entertaining as it gets, a 1980s-feel game that was 66-65 at the break. As tends to happen at pace, it was a point guard’s game — Russell Westbrook had 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting; Ty Lawson scored 15 first half points on just 7 shots (he would finish with 25). The Thunder were able to get out to a double digit lead at one point, but playing fast let the Nuggets get points inside (44 in the paint in the first half) close that gap quickly and by halftime it was tight.

Then the Thunder came out in the third quarter ice cold — they started 4-of-18 shooting, 0-of-5 from three. With that the Nuggets raced out on a 15-4 run to start the second half. Denver’s lead got all the way up to 13 at points.

You kept waiting for the Oklahoma City run to answer, and Kevin Durant had 12 of his 34 in the fourth quarter.

But every time it started, it seemed like Andre Miller was there to shut it down. It was Miller’s birthday, and without looking it up I think he turned 64. Didn’t matter. The old man was making plays, hitting 4-of-7 in the quarter and getting to the line. Kenneth Faried shouldn’t be overlooked on the night, with his 13 points and 15 rebounds.

It was also Miller making the speech to the team in the locker room at halftime saying the Nuggets needed to step up and make a statement.

They did.

And the Western Conference playoffs are going to be fun.

  1. jerdogthompson - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:12 AM

    The Clippers won 3 outta 4 against the Thunder last year. Only team in the NBA to do so. From memory they got swept by the Spurs. Good win, good regular season win that is and that is all.

  2. broncobeta - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    What’s amazing about this win isn’t the fact that it was the Thunder, it’s that the Nuggets are winning games in ways everyone said they couldn’t.

    “The Nuggets can’t play in the half court offense” – 87-80 vs Grizzlies

    “The Nuggets can’t beat winning teams on the road” – Chicago and Oklahoma back to back.

    Now the only excuse left is, “Well, regular season games don’t mean much anyway…”

    I get it, they’re a small market team, and they don’t have a super star, hell even an all star. But I think it’s about time to drop the excuses and give them credit.

  3. rickyspanish - Mar 20, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    I agree 100%. The excuses have run out. The Nuggets are a good team that deserves more credit. George Karl is an excellent coach and Masai Ujiri is a great general manager.

  4. dkno24 - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:08 AM

    Nuggets beat OKC, Memphis and Golden State 3-1, not to mention the Clippers 2-1… Don’t sleep ya’ll!!!!

    • davidly - Mar 20, 2013 at 7:58 AM

      That mile-high air has a tendency to make one drowsy. Combine that with a sturdy squad who can take that air on the road, and we could be saying g’night to Grizzlies and Warriors and the brooks in the west who might sleep through their own Thunder.

  5. mungman69 - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:20 AM

    AI is just what Denver needed.

  6. lucifershuttlesworth - Mar 20, 2013 at 1:32 AM

    Another very impressive win. The fact that they got it despite shooting 4 for 21 from beyond the arc clearly illustrates how destructive they are in the paint.

  7. chilomane - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:05 AM

    I love C brews hustle and the craftiness of Miller these guys are fun to watch.

  8. dko83 - Mar 20, 2013 at 2:11 AM

    Agreed with you guys. What a really fun team, and a great team. Playoffs… can’t wait to see what they do. Might upset some teams. Next year they are in my league pass.

  9. mungman69 - Mar 20, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    Don’t be surprised if Memphis or Denver knocks off San Antonio.

  10. davidly - Mar 20, 2013 at 6:55 AM

    Nicely said, Kurt. I would only amend “…poor predictors of a playoff series.” with “poor predictors of a playoff run.”

    Think about what Popovich said recently about his team’s streak last season, how it wore them out by the time they reached OK City. That applies particularly to his team, in that both the age and talent levels of the Spurs are unusual in the league.

    So, on the one hand, such a streak might not wear on the Heat as much as it did the Spurs, and on the other hand the Nugget’s win in Ok City is not as much of an indicator of a regular season/playoff discrepancy as that of the Spurs last year.

    Interesting to note is the fact that we are talking about the two most difficult road wins, Denver being 1 and Ok City being 2. Normally, that has translated to the Nuggets less than stellar road play. But now, they have shown that they can win in the most difficult arena, against the Western Conf Champs after having been exhausted the night before.

    This statement is a bigger than all the others and, I believe, is an indicator should these two teams meet in the playoffs. Can the Thunder run with the Nuggets in Denver? So far, no.

    But the biggest indicator is what it means for the Thunder’s coming playoff run, irrespective of who they end up playing. And this postseason, they don’t have Harden.

  11. nodindenver - Mar 20, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Said earlier that if Dre got 10M a year Javale to man up these guys could do something. Since then it has been ill Will, Koufos, and Brew contributing 50+ a night between them. This crew is fun to watch and a breath of fresh air to all that is wrong with the era of super-teams. March on Nugs!

  12. badintent - Mar 22, 2013 at 1:38 AM

    Karl is smart Genuis. He is the new Phil. No superstar but has some tricks up his sleeve all the time for everyone.His bench is amazing and that thin air just kills visting teams in the fourth quarter.Knick Nation still misses Wilson Chandler big time.

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