OKC Thunder: Kevin Durant scores 32 points as Thunder falls to Nuggets

Ty Lawson scored 25 points, Kenneth Faried added 13 points and 10 rebounds, and the Denver Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 106-101 on Wednesday night.
by Darnell Mayberry Modified: April 26, 2012 at 12:42 am •  Published: April 25, 2012

How does a first-round rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals grab you?

Might want to get used to the sound of it, because it now appears to be the matchup we'll likely see as the 2-7 series.

For the Oklahoma City Thunder, a meeting with the defending champion Dallas Mavericks in the opening round of the playoffs loomed as the most problematic matchup possible. Yet after suffering a 106-101 defeat to Denver in its regular season finale on Wednesday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, the Thunder tiptoed closer to that reality.

A Nuggets win Thursday at Minnesota, or a Mavs loss at Atlanta, will clinch the No. 6 seed for Denver and lock Dallas into the seventh spot.

Denver's win Tuesday also trapped Utah — which still had a chance to climb to seventh and face the Thunder — in the eighth hole and assured the Jazz of a first-round meeting with top-seeded San Antonio.

After eliminating the Nuggets in five games in the opening round last year, Oklahoma City went 2-1 against Denver this season. The Thunder also went 2-1 against the Jazz. Both Denver and Utah were widely believed to be more favorable matchups for the Thunder in a seven-game series.

While the Thunder did go 3-1 against Dallas this season, the Mavs sent the Thunder home in five games last year and Dallas has a bona fide star in Dirk Nowitzki that both Denver and Utah lacks, as well as an experience advantage in crunchtime that still could be costly for the Thunder.

“It'd be fun,” Kevin Durant confidently said of a potential early matchup with the Mavs just before listing exactly what makes Dallas dangerous.

“Dallas is tough to play. They do so much on both ends of the floor that disrupts teams; zone, they got Dirk and Jason Terry and all those guys that complement them.”

Durant then turned confident again.

“But we're a different team from last year and they're a different team from last year,” he said. “So I doubt that that series will be the same. Hopefully it's not the same. We just want to come out there and be focused and lock in, and I think that's what we'll do.”

Until Monday, when the Spurs clinched the No. 1 seed with a win over Portland, the Thunder had a chance to land the top seed. It would have brought home-court advantage through the Western Conference Finals and, quite likely, a more favorable first-round matchup.

But the Thunder stumbled across the finish line in this shortened 66-game season, going 8-7 in April with one uninspiring performance after another. All the while, Thunder players and coaches maintained they cared little about home-court advantage or potential matchups.

Wednesday's box score: Denver 106, OKC 101

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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