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.”
Ten Thunder players played double-digit minutes and the other two played 9-plus.
Russell Westbrook had 32 points in 28 minutes, while Kevin Durant and sixth man Kevin Martin each had 20 points on 12 shots.
Reserve Reggie Jackson had eight points, seven assists and six rebounds in 20 minutes of play.
Denver had 21 turnovers, which the Thunder turned into 28 points.
“Just too many turnovers to those guys,” Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson said. “Turnovers to free throws, then another turnover to a 3 by KD (Durant). After that, they just ran with it.”
OKC now embarks on a six-game road trip over the next 10 days, beginning with an 8:30 p.m. game at Dallas, which has won four straight.
After that comes a rematch at Denver on Sunday night.
“I think we've just got to throw this game away (mentally),” Karl said. “We'll get some film that will hopefully show some things that we need to do better. We'll be on our home court (15-2 this season) and hopefully will have Wilson (Chandler) back.”
Chandler was out with a hip injury and did not play Wednesday night.
“Wilson could have had his best game in the NBA tonight, and we still would have lost,” Karl said. “Everybody's got to play better.”