Nuggets dodge Thunder, keep race for Northwest interesting
Oklahoma City, OK – Ty Lawson led a balanced scoring attack with 25 points and the Denver Nuggets ran their season-long winning streak to 13 games with a convincing 114-104 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Lawson was one of six players in double figures for the Nuggets, who received an outstanding all-around performance as well out of Andre Miller, with the 15-year veteran posting 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
"Thirteen wins, that's a good run," Denver coach George Karl remarked. "I don't want to get too happy because we still have a job to do to try and get home court advantage in the first round, but boy these guys are a lot of fun to coach."
Kenneth Faried added a double-double of 13 points and 15 rebounds while also registering three blocks, and Danilo Gallinari scored 13 points as Denver pulled within 3 1/2 games of Oklahoma City for the Northwest Division lead after taking the final three games of the season series.
The Thunder also came in hot, with wins in 11 of their last 13 games, but faltered in the second half on Tuesday to drop just their fifth game at home this season.
Kevin Durant ended with a game-high 34 points and Russell Westbrook followed with 25 and six assists in the defeat.
Denver started slow and trailed by as many as 10 in the second quarter, but narrowed the gap to 66-65 at the break before breaking through completely in the third.
The Nuggets surged out of halftime on a 15-4 run, with Lawson's feed to Andre Iguodala resulting in a dunk and a 10-point Denver advantage near the midway point of the third quarter.
The Thunder managed only 16 points in the third, where they shot just 30 percent and trailed by as many as 13 before an 8-2 quarter-ending flurry got them within 89-82.
"In the third quarter I think we just went cold," Durant admitted. "We missed shots that we normally make and dunks and three pointers weren't going."
In the early moments of the fourth, Miller had an alley-oop feed to Iguodala prior to scoring a pair of baskets that restored an 11-point Denver edge.
The Thunder later got their deficit down to five at 102-97 on a pull-up jumper from Westbrook, but Durant was called for an offensive foul on the ensuing possession and later missed a 3-pointer, which led to a Miller running jumper and a 105-97 Denver lead with two minutes to go.
After shooting 54.5 percent in the first half, the Thunder converted only 31.7 percent of their shots over the final two frames to succumb to defeat.
The Nuggets' 13-game winning streak is the longest since the team became an NBA member in 1976. Denver had a 15-game run during the 1969-70 season while playing in the ABA ... Denver outscored Oklahoma City in the paint, 72-50 ... The Thunder had a seven-game home winning streak snapped and fell to 21-2 against Western Conference opponents at Chesapeake Energy Arena ... Denver improved to 17-19 on the road ... Iguodala scored 10 points on 5-for-14 shooting.