Thunder Crush Nuggets For Sixth Straight Win
By Randy Renner
Despite the absence of superstar Kevin Durant, who is out for at least the next week after having a surgical procedure on his sore right foot, the Thunder played without a care in the world, dominated Denver and cruised to a 119-94 win.
Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and newcomer Enes Kanter all scored at least 20 points, while the Thunder defense had a choke hold on the Nuggets offense all night.
"I like the way we came out, we had great energy. Everybody came in and did a great job," said head coach Scott Brooks.
The Thunder were playing on the second night of a road-home back-to-back but it certainly didn't look like it. They started fast, leading 36-18 after the first quarter and just kept rolling.
It was OKC's sixth straight win and eighth in the last nine games.
Westbrook set a new career-high with 17 assists in just 28 minutes, he also led the Thunder with 21 points while grabbing eight rebounds.
"Russell was nearly flawless," Brooks said then cracked, "although he did miss those two free throws." Westbrook's two misses snapped a streak of 45 consecutive makes from the charity stripe.
"He's the best point guard in basketball," Brooks proclaimed. "A no excuse player and a great leader."
Kanter started his second straight game and again had a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. He also saved a rebound by leaping into the seats, up and over the first couple of rows in one of the more amazing plays you'll see.
Kanter has fit in immediately with group, as have the other mew guys, and the numbers Kanter has put up in his first teo games make you wonder what the heck the Jazz were thinking in letting him go. Kanter seems thrilled to be in OKC playing with a group that includes a couple of future Hall of Famers on a team that's capable of long playoff runs every season.
Ibaka also had 20 points, hauled in eight rebounds and swatted away eight shots.
It's the third time this season the Thunder have had three players score at least 20 points and remember all of this was accomplished with the reigning MVP not even in the building.
Durant had a minor surgical procedure done in North Carolina earlier in the day to change out a screw that had inserted during the surgery to repair the Jones fractire on that foot several months ago. The fracture is said to be healing nicely but the screw was causing irritation that led to the pain and discomfort Durant has been feeling the last few games.
He will be re-evaluated within the week and a determination could be made then as to when Durant could resume play this season.
The Thunder won't practice Monday and will host the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night.