Five takeaways from the Thunder's 113-101 win over the Nuggets
The Thunder began the unofficial second half with a win. In its first game out of the All-Star break, OKC beat Denver 113-101 Friday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Here are five takeaways from the game:
In the first quarter, six thunder players combined for the Thunder’s 27 points. Meanwhile, three players combined for the Nuggets’ 17 points, with center Nikola Jokic accounting for 11 points.
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A similar pattern continued throughout the game. Every Nugget who played eventually scored. But Jokic (32 points) and Jamal Murray (21) carried the brunt of the offense.
Chris Paul surged ahead to lead the Thunder in scoring with 29 points. But seven OKC players scored in the double digits. It was the fifth time that happened this season, setting a Thunder record.
Paul comes alive
Three minutes into the second quarter, Chris Paul still hadn’t scored. Put then he rattled off nine points before halftime.
That included two game-tying shots in the last 35 seconds of the second quarter. First, he drained 3-pointer to knot the game at 46 apiece. Then, he pulled up from midrange to out the score at 48-48 heading into halftime.
Paul’s momentum carried into the second half. He shot 7-of-11 after the intermission.
Nuggets coach Mike Malone couldn’t explain Jokic’s recent success against the Thunder. When the two teams met in December, Jokic logged a triple-double (28 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists). On Friday, he continued the trend with 32 points on 12-of-15 shooting.
“Steven Adams is kind of the rock this team has had,” Malone said of the Thunder center before the game. “But Nikola, he’s played well against a lot of teams.”
Adams and Nerlens Noel both guarded Jokic on Friday, but in a surprise move, Noel spent more time on the floor with the Nuggets’ passing big man. Jokic outmatched Noel in physicality, and Noel picked up his third foul with 6:48 left in the second quarter. But Noel had the edge on quickness.
Jerami Grant returns
Thunder forward Abdel Nader and Nuggets forward Jerami Grant chatted from the scorer’s table to the middle of the court as they took the floor for the fourth quarter.
Grant returned to Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time since the Thunder traded him to Denver this past summer. Grant recorded six points in 21 minutes.
He played with the second unit for the first time since Jan. 6 at Atlanta, after starting 18 games in that time, while Paul Millsap battled injury.
Dort the disrupter
Thunder rookie Luguentz Dort sent the mop crew scattering. He stole the ball from Murray Jamal with about six minutes left in the third quarter and went coast-to-coast with it. From the scorer’s table, Dennis Schroder threw up his hands as Dort threw down a dunk.
Dort recorded three steals Friday. The Thunder out-scored the Nuggets 12-10 in fastbreak points.