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Second-chance points saved the Nuggets from elimination

By John Rohde, Staff Writer, Published: April 26, 2011

Second-chance points in Game 4 wound up giving the Denver Nuggets a second chance at life.

The Nuggets survived opening-round elimination with a 104-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night inside the Pepsi Center.

Surrendering second-chance points have been known to sting, but the Nuggets threw daggers at the Thunder throughout the entire second half.

The key stretch was an 11-0 run that began late in the third quarter.

Denver reserve guard J.R. Smith nailed a 3-pointer with 35.4 seconds left in the period after an offensive rebound by Chris Andersen. The bucket gave the Nuggets a 71-69 lead and they would never trail again.

Denver's next points came on another second-chance 3, this one from Raymond Felton as the 24-second shot clock expired on the opening possession of the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets had 13 second-chance points and nine offensive rebounds in the second half. They finished with 15 second-chance points and 13 offensive rebounds for the game, both of which were series highs.

“We definitely talked about that,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said Tuesday. “We had done a good job of taking their offensive rebounding out of the games. When those offensive rebounds end up as 3s, they hurt. They demoralize you because you played defense good enough that they missed that (first) shot.

“Those are tough possessions to get back and now you have to really lock in and get a good shot or score just to compensate for that lack of finishing up that (previous) possession.”

Entering Game 4, the Thunder owned a 46-28 advantage in second-chance points and a 35-20 lead in offensive rebounds.

Quick scoring bursts and living at the free-throw line is how Denver frequently has won this season.

In the second half, the Nuggets shot 53.8 percent (7 for 13) from 3-point range and just 27.6 percent (8 for 29) inside the arc. They also got 22 points from the free-throw line on 30 attempts. “We're fouling too much,” Brooks admitted.

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