One streak continued.
Another came to an end.
The Thunder ended up on the wrong side of that equation.
Oklahoma City suffered a 114-104 loss to Denver on Tuesday inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, bringing an end to the Thunder’s 20-game home winning streak against Western Conference opponents.
The Nuggets, meanwhile, won for the 13th straight game and the third time in this season’s four meetings against OKC.
Kevin Durant scored a game-high 34 points with seven rebounds and five assists, and Russell Westbrook added 25 points with four rebounds and six assists. But against a high-octane Nuggets squad, that tandem wasn’t nearly enough to keep up. Kevin Martin, who scored 14 points off the bench, was the only other Thunder player in double figures.
“You got to give them a lot of credit. They’re playing the best basketball right now in the West,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. “We didn’t do some of the things that we went into the game trying to do.”
There was indeed much that OKC didn’t do right. But mostly, the Thunder simply succumbed to its opponent’s style. Everything that led to Tuesday’s defeat could be found in the first half.
For a team that supposedly prides itself on the defensive end, the Thunder looked awfully interested in turning this matchup into the run-and-gun game most figured it would be. And on this night, the Nuggets, despite playing on the second night of a back-to-back, easily were the better team.
“There’s no question that they’re a very fast team,” Brooks said. “They’re third in the league in scoring. We’re second in the league in scoring. We both play fast. We want to make it a defensive game, no question. We want to make sure that we are locking them up defensively and not letting them get into their zone. But they did a good job. They were attacking on makes and misses.”
When the Thunder went into the locker room at halftime, the team carried with it only a one-point lead after 24 minutes of sloppy play (10 turnovers), rickety defense (44 Nuggets paint points) and faulty rebounding (10 Denver offensive boards).
Together, it resulted in a 66-65 lead, the most points the Thunder has allowed in any half this season.
All that saved OKC from staring at a sizable deficit was a scorching shooting half. The Thunder connected on 24 of its 44 first-half field goals (54.5 percent), including four of 10 from 3-point range.