DENVER — After the freakish ending against Houston on Tuesday night, when the Thunder blew an 11-point lead at home in the final 2½ minutes, what OKC needed was a sense of normalcy.
The Thunder needed something to tilt its existence back on the axis that helped make it the best team in the Western Conference.
It arrived Thursday night at Denver with the return of guard Thabo Sefolosha to the starting lineup after missing 23 games with a sore right foot. His mere presence gave OKC more of a defensive mindset and also allowed struggling bombardier Daequan Cook to rejoin the second unit.
The end result was a convincing 103-90 victory over the Nuggets before a crowd of 18,458 at the Pepsi Center.
Not only was it important for the Thunder to win and erase Tuesday's embarrassingly uncharacteristic loss to the Rockets, it was important for OKC to win in convincing fashion.
“Oh, definitely,” Sefolosha said. “We played really well tonight. I just tried to bring what I've been bringing. It was a feel-good victory for us, getting back on track, playing the right way and playing at our own pace.”
Sefolosha played only 12 minutes and had just three points and one assist, but moving back to the second unit obviously agreed with Cook, who confidently buried three 3-pointers and scored 11 points in 16 minutes.
“It felt comfortable out there,” Cook admitted. “There's a comfort level out there playing with the second unit and getting back to the regular routine.”
Beating the Nuggets has become routine for the Thunder, which has beaten Denver nine of the last 11 meetings dating back to last season and including the first round of last year's playoffs.
Also routine is bouncing back and not losing consecutive games. OKC is now 9-1 after a loss this season and 29-7 after a loss the last two seasons.