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by Jenni Carlson Published: April 18, 2011

This Thunder-Nuggets series is going to be fun.

Heck, it already is.

With all the build-up heading into this first-round tilt-a-whirl, you figured there was no way the games could actually live up to the hype. The Thunder lambasted the Nuggets in a pair of extremely physical games. Then, the Nuggets called the Thunder cocky. Oh, the set-up was juicy.

Lucky for us, we got an opening game that was just as succulent.

The Thunder defeated the Nuggets 107-103 on Sunday night in a knock-down, drag-out game. It was gritty. It was gut-wrenching.

It was grand, wasn't it?

“We did whatever it took for us to win that game,” Thunder superstar Kevin Durant said. “Dove on the floor. Got key rebounds. Got key stops.”

It was that kind of night, and really, it could be that kind of series.

Settle in, Thunder fans. This could take awhile.

The Nuggets, you see, played just as hard as the Thunder. They dove on the floor. They got key rebounds. They got key stops.

Heck, when the Thunder took an eight-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, you figured the Nuggets might get blown out. Durant was hitting everything he threw toward the basket, Russell Westbrook was doing his darnedest to match his tag-team partner shot for shot, and the Thunder defense was keeping the Nuggets from getting almost anything.

During one five-minute stretch, the Nuggets managed only four points and had zero offensive rebounds.

That's some stellar defense, folks.

But just like that, the Nuggets scored nine unanswered points and took a one-point lead.

“It was a heck of a basketball game,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “I thought both teams played as hard as they could possibly play.”

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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