Thunder vs. Nuggets: Five takeaways from OKC's loss to Denver
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault called three timeouts in the first quarter.
The first came at the 7:01 mark after the Nuggets built a 17-4 lead.
“I actually didn’t call one really early because I just wanted to see us battle through that,” Daigneault said. “And then I certainly tried to help get the game under control a little bit.”
The second timeout came at the 5:05 mark: 24-6 Nuggets.
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Then another at the 1:38 mark: 36-15 Nuggets.
“I thought coach did a good job calling some early timeouts there and tried to gather us, remind us that it’s a 48-minute game,” center Mike Muscala said.
But the stoppages did little to ice Denver’s offense. The Nuggets shot 70% in the first quarter and 6-of-8 from behind the arc.
“They were really sharp to start the game,” Daigneault said. “I give them a lot of credit tonight, because they were really good in all facets and certainly outplayed us. I thought that was obvious.”
The Nuggets led 38-20 at the end of the first quarter, and that 18-point cushion only grew as the Nuggets blew out the Thunder 126-96 Saturday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Here are four other takeaways from the game:
Denver’s stars shine
Michael Porter Jr. came out cooking, and he never cooled off. Denver’s sharpshooting forward was 7-of-11 from the field and 5-of-8 from 3-point range for 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Nuggets center Nikola Jokic continued his MVP-worthy season with a triple-double: 19 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds.
Jamal Murray led the Nuggets with 26 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
Denver’s starters combined to shoot 63%.
Bench shows up
The Thunder trailed 65-43 at halftime. It would’ve been worse had it not been for the bench.
The Thunder’s reserves outscored the Thunder’s starters 24-19 in the first half, and they outscored Denver’s bench unit 24-4 in the first half.
The bench disparity continued into the second half. The Thunder won the bench battle 52-33.
Backup big man Isaiah Roby had 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Ty Jerome also had 15 points off the bench and Kenrich Williams had 12 points and five rebounds.
For Jerome, 15 points tied his career high. And it came in just his second game with the Thunder.
“Just chip away, don’t even look at the score,” Jerome said of the bench’s mindset.
Darius Bazley shot 0-of-8 Wednesday night against the Spurs. It was his first scoreless game of the season.
But Bazley turned things around during the weekend back-to-back.
He tallied 18 points and 12 rebounds Friday night against the Hawks, and he led the Thunder with a season-high 22 points Saturday night.
“He’s learning how to become a consistent player and what that looks like for him and what type of style of play is sustainable for him,” Daigneault said. “I thought he brought that energy again tonight.”
The second-year forward offered an introspective answer at what a sustainable style of play looks like for him.
“You’re gonna have nights where you feel like you’re on top of the world,” Bazley said, “and then you’ll have nights where you just wanna like not show your face to anyone.”
Bazley said he’s focused on the controllables: running the floor, rebounding and defending.
“Now I know it’s not always gonna look perfect,” Bazley said. “I definitely have more room to grow. But coming into each game with that mindset of getting those three things done. I have no control of if the ball is going in, if I’m finishing around the rim. I might struggle. But having those key set of things that I can always rely on every night, I think those things will help me. Over time as I keep getting more experience, I think the other things will come.”
The Thunder shot just 11-of-47 (23%) from behind the arc.
Denver cashed in from deep. The Nuggets were 15-of-31 (48%).