Despite a presumed drop-off in talent and expectations this season, the Denver Nuggets are playing some great basketball.
Winners of 10 of their past 13, the Nuggets enter Tuesday at 14-9, good for sixth in the crowded Western Conference.
And they've been particularly stingy at home, where the Thunder visit Tuesday night with a chance to win its first road game over a team with a current winning record.
“It's tough,” Kevin Durant said of playing in the Denver altitude. “But we got guys who have been playing there for so long, so we can't use that as an excuse.
The Nuggets are 7-3 at home this season and 45-6 the past two years.
WESTBROOK A BIT MORE FRUGAL IN SHOT SELECTION
This season, Russell Westbrook is taking a career-high 4.8 3-pointers per game.
On the surface, that might seem like a bad thing, with his conversion percentage still at a relatively low 30 percent. But in reality, it might be a positive, considering he's taking fewer long 2-pointers (between 16-24 feet) than last year — dropping from 3.9 per game to 3.2.
“There's no need to take long twos,” Westbrook said. “If you're going to take a two, then you might as well take one step back and shoot a three.”
The logic has to do with efficiency, with the extra point making a 33 percent 3-point shooter the equivalent of a 50 percent shooter from inside the arc.
“(It's) something I've learned,” Westbrook said. “It's a better percentage if you just back up a step or go in a step. Instead of taking those long twos, it's a bad shot.”
Westbrook is shooting 35 percent on shots between 16-24 feet this season that, when averaged out, is less efficient than his current clip from three.
PERKINS JOKES ABOUT RARE DUNK
Early in the third quarter of Sunday's win over Orlando, Kendrick Perkins received a slick interior pass from Durant on the left block.
As Perkins squared toward the basket, having botched a pair of layups earlier in the game, he figured, “Why not?”
“I missed so many layups I was like, ‘I'm just gonna go up,'” Perkins said.
So he did, throwing down a surprisingly emphatic and-1 jam on top of Glen “Big Baby” Davis in a low-flying battle of big men who don't exactly rely on their vertical leaps.
“It's kind of hard right now playing with that taped up finger because I'm used to going up with two hands,” Perkins said. “But I guess I'll just go up with one now. I only got a 12-inch vertical though.”
STAT OF NOTE
The Thunder's seven road wins have come against teams with a combined record of 62-104. Its next two road opponents — Denver and San Antonio — have a combined record of 33-13.