By Addam Francisco
Tonight the Oklahoma City Thunder faced the Denver Nuggets who are (16-25) on the year going into tonight, but have been playing very well here lately beating both the Golden State Warriors and the Indiana Pacers, but tonight OKC came into Denver and shut that down with a 110-104 win. OKC has Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Enes Kanter to thank for that.
Kevin had a double-double by halftime, and finished with 30 points and 12 rebounds, Russell had 27 points with 12 assists, and Kanter finished the game with a season high 25 points and 8 rebounds off 10-of-14 shooting. This game started off slow, as OKC let Denver get a 12-point lead but surprisingly... or not so surprisingly here lately, the Cameron Payne led second team showed up and got the team back in the game and ultimately took the lead.
Note: Cam had a horrible shooting game, going 0-for-9 from the field but had a professional high 6 assists and 4 steals, along with 4 rebounds in just 20 minutes of play.
Not to mention, even with a bad shooting night, he had a game high +12 plus/minus statistic. That shows that he was all around the most effective player on the floor. In this five game winning streak, he is the common denominator because the weakness of this team has been the second team and defense, which are the two things that he's improved on this team in only his 13th game in the rotation.
Games like this from OKC show growth, and improvement. 30 assists on 41 made field goals? That shows that this team isn't playing as much 1-on-1 ball like they were early in the season. The entire team has been getting people involved on the offensive end, and really improved the defensive intensity in the paint, which is unheard of from Enes who played 25 minutes and (with the help of Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka of course) held Kenneth Faried to less than 50 percent shooting.
Big plays and second chance points really helped propel this team over Denver tonight. Russell had 3 ferocious dunks off the dribble which really helped this team energy-wise. Oklahoma City is on a six game winning streak and look like a championship contender right now. With this play, they have a great chance of beating the only two teams that are "better" than them, Golden State and San Antonio. There won't be any breaks for the Thunder, as they return home tomorrow to play Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Hornets. Remember, former Thunder guard Jeremy Lamb plays for the Hornets and will be returning to OKC for the first time since the controversial trade last season. Oklahoma City is now (31-12) on the season.