Published January 08, 2015
Kevin Durant scored 30 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder snapped Denver's nine-game winning streak with a 101-84 victory Friday night, limiting the Nuggets to their lowest scoring output of the season.
Playing without NBA scoring leader Carmelo Anthony for the third straight game, the Nuggets scored the first five points after halftime to cut their deficit to one but then got outscored 28-10 the rest of the quarter.
Denver never recovered and Oklahoma City cruised to victory to avoid its first four-game losing streak of the season.
Jeff Green added 15 points, Russell Westbrook and James Harden each scored 12 and Nick Collison contributed 10 points off the bench for the Thunder.
Chauncey Billups led the Nuggets with 19 points and reserve J.R. Smith hit five 3-pointers and scored 18. Denver shot 10-for-21 from 3-point range, losing for the first time in 11 games when reaching double digits in 3-pointers.
The Nuggets closed within 13 early in the fourth quarter, but Collison and Durant combined for seven straight points and the Thunder led 90-70 after Durant made a fast-break layup - losing the ball and then regaining control on his way to the basket - with 6:36 to play.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks pulled his starters with 3:31 remaining and a 22-point lead. Among the reserves on the court for the final stretch was point guard Kevin Ollie, who hadn't played since having right knee surgery on Nov. 30.
Durant, who leads the NBA in scoring since Christmas and is third overall behind Anthony and LeBron James, had at least 25 points for the 20th straight game. At 22, he's the youngest player ever to accomplish that feat.
Anthony had hit game-winning baskets in the final 6 seconds of both of Denver's wins in Oklahoma City last season, but the Thunder had no risk of another gut-wrenching loss with him on the bench in a three-piece suit.
The Nuggets were outscored 54-20 in the paint and shot 40 percent. Their previous scoring low came in a 96-88 loss at Miami on Nov. 6, in the sixth game of the season.
The Thunder led 51-45 at halftime - matching the largest lead either team held in the first two quarters - before Denver scored the first four points of the second half.
Oklahoma City came back with a 10-2 run and led 61-52 after Thabo Sefolosha followed his own tip-in by stealing the ball from Billups and rushing down the court for a right-handed jam. Collison added a three-point play and Harden hit a 3-pointer as the Thunder scored the final nine points of the period to go up 79-60.
More than 10,000 fans turned out although a winter storm left city streets coated with snow and ice and closed the airport. The game was officially Oklahoma City's 13th sellout although all the tickets weren't used.
NOTES: Denver coach George Karl will coach the Western Conference at the All-Star Game, with his team clinching the second-best record and the Lakers' Phil Jackson ineligible since he received the honors last year. But Karl hesitated to comment on his selection, since Billups didn't make the All-Star team and fellow point guard Ty Lawson wasn't picked for the Rookie Challenge. "Is it official? (NBA commissioner David) Stern has not called me yet," Karl said. "He vetoed Chauncey. He vetoed Ty. He might veto me." ... Durant spoke to reporters for the first time since being chosen as an All-Star reserve a night earlier. "It felt good, man. It shows that I've worked hard and it's just the beginning, I guess," he said. "It's motivation for me to keep working harder and try to maintain or even get better on the All-Star level. I know my work is cut out for me." ... Karl said the Nuggets would remain in Oklahoma City and hold a shootaround and walkthrough Saturday due to the winter storm. "This is not considered a storm in Denver. It's a dusting in Denver," he said.