OKC Thunder won 3 of 4 regular-season matchups with Denver

BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, jrohde@opubco.com Published: April 15, 2011
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REGULAR-SEASON RECAP

The first-round playoff series between the Thunder and Nuggets that will begin on Sunday won't be the teams' first rodeo this season. Here's a look at how the four regular-season matchups between Denver and Oklahoma City played out:

GAME 1: THUNDER 114, DENVER 106

Date/Place: Dec. 25, 2010 at Oklahoma City Arena

Summary: Kevin Durant scored 44 points in a nationally televised game on Christmas Day. The Nuggets were without Carmelo Anthony, who was with family following the death of his sister. Durant scored 21 in the third quarter and had 40 points through three periods, but he put his team first and never even tried to get to 50.

What we learned: Though it was a big win for the Thunder, the Nuggets were struggling at the time with all that surrounded Anthony and they obviously were not at full strength.

GAME 2: NUGGETS 112, THUNDER 107

Date/Place: Jan. 19 at Pepsi Center in Denver

Summary: Carmelo Anthony erupted for 35 points on the same day New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov announced he no longer would pursue Anthony. “It was personal,” Anthony said. ‘In spite of everything that is going on, I'm still here.”

The Thunder went 3 for 15 from 3-point range after going 2 for 22 at the L.A. Lakers two nights earlier.

What we learned: The Thunder knew this likely would be the last time it faced Anthony while he was with the Nuggets, but that didn't mean OKC had any answers on how to stop him.

GAME 3: THUNDER 101, NUGGETS 94

Date/Place: April 5 at Pepsi Center in Denver

Summary: The Thunder all but assured itself the Northwest Division title and homecourt advantage in the playoffs with this clutch victory that snapped the franchise's seven-game losing streak in Denver, during which time the Nuggets had won by an average of 19.3 points. Durant had 32 points and nine rebounds.

What we learned: In the first meeting since the trade deadline, the Thunder showed its new attitude as Kendrick Perkins and Nene Hilario stood forehead-to-forehead, each drawing a technical foul.

GAME 4: THUNDER 104, NUGGETS 89

Date/Place: April 8 at Oklahoma City Arena

Summary: Meeting for the second time in four days, the Thunder posted another victory over Denver, which was missing starting guard Arron Afflalo (hamstring), plus reserves Chris Andersen (ankle) and Timofey Mozgov (ankle, knee). OKC outscored the Nuggets 23-8 on fastbreak points and had 25 points off 19 Denver turnovers.

What we learned: Though the Nuggets were ailing physically, the Thunder had flipped the psychological momentum in the series, besting one of the league's hottest teams since the All-Star break.

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