Photo Credits: Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images
For Oklahoma City, they had 72 hours to prepare for this game as the Sunday postponement vs. the 76ers gave way for more preparation. Despite the extra days of rest, the job could not be done, being excavated by the Nuggets on Tuesday, 119-101. The Thunder loss moved them from ninth in the standings into a two-way tie for tenth. Their 6-7 placed them under the .500 threshold for the third time of the season. For the Nuggets (7-7) their victory hopscotched them from eleventh in the conference to ninth, on the outside looking in of the eight seed.
Denver placed seven players in double figures, but the team’s axis on offense was none other than center Nikola Jokic. Jokic was matched up on Thunder forward Isaiah Roby from the get go, and he made sure to use his fifty pound advantage to get down low and spread the offense out for everyone. He scored 27 points (12-21 FG,) with 12 rebounds, and 6 assists in 28 minutes of play, with 12 of his 27 coming from the first period. Jamal Murray could not get things going from the field on just 2-10 shooting, but enhanced guard play off the bench from Monte Morris and PJ Dozier picked up the slack, combining for 26 points.
The Nuggets took the game down-low vs. the Thunder, racking up 62 points in the paint alone. Their best patch of offense came in the third quarter, when they connected on 10 of their last 11 shots at one point. They also amassed 29 points off of 19 Thunder turnovers, and was a decisive factor in the second in third quarters to pull away in the game. The biggest factor in this game came from second chance points outscoring OKC 32-3, while collecting 18 offensive rebounds to the tune of the Thunder’s 9.
For Oklahoma City, they didn’t have a traditional five playing much of this game. Isaiah Roby took Jokic body-to-body and though giving up spurts of buckets, had his moments with a career-high 4 steals. Lu Dort led the team in scoring with 20 points (8-11 FG) with suffocating guard Jamal Murray to just 5 points on defense. Only three other players placed in double-figures, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley, and Isaiah Roby dropping 14, 12, and 10 points respectively.
Despite the score, this game was a real back-and-forth through one, with OKC even leading by eight a few minutes into the match. Once Denver started taking grasp of the game though, head coach Mark Daigneault was not afraid to make this a learning experience for his guys. All of the Thunder’s fourteen active players on the roster got playing time, and the burst of youth provided from the team cut a 29 point Nuggets lead to just 18 by the horn.
Two-way small-forward Josh Hall did an excellent job asserting himself inside, putting up six points in 13 minutes. Justin Jackson was a pleasant kick off the sidelines with 9 points in only 7 minutes on the floor.
Both team’s shot in the 40 percents from the field and the low 30’s from three, but the 19 shots from the Nuggets pushed them to the victory.
For the Thunder, their next matchup with be in Los Angeles on Friday, where they kick off their 5-game road stand against the (10-4) Clippers.