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Oklahoma City Thunder: Denver coach George Karl said Nuggets might have been playing the best team in basketball

Karl: “They wanted to kick our butts and they did.”
By John Rohde Published: January 16, 2013

Denver needed overtime to beat Portland on Tuesday night at the Pepsi Center, and the Thunder made sure the Nuggets paid the price one night later at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

In what could be considered its best first-quarter performance of the season, OKC jumped out to a 34-18 lead against Denver, which came to town riding a six-game winning streak.

“We didn't have a good offensive game, we didn't have a good defensive game and we didn't have a good energy game,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “We never got into our flow and our offensive just wasn't there. We didn't come with enough mental or physical energy.”

The Thunder led wire-to-wire, built its biggest lead late in the third quarter (93-65) and then had the luxury of sitting all five starters the entire fourth quarter in a methodical 117-97 victory.

“I thought we came out with great energy from the start on both ends of the floor,” OKC coach Scott Brooks said. “We set the tone early with our defense ... we were making shots, but we were playing good defense and that really enables us to play better offense. They were a little tired. They had a tough game last night and flew in late, but overall I thought it was our defense that was good to start the game. We got hot and we took the lead and closed out the game.”

With its fifth straight victory, OKC retained the NBA's best record at 31-8 while Denver dropped to 24-17.

“There's always those three, four or five games a year that you can't get it going,” Karl said. “Tonight, we couldn't get it going and you're playing maybe the best team in basketball. (OKC) played with a high level of commitment. They wanted to kick our butts and they did.”

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