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Thunder can be as exhilarating as it is frustrating

After a 115-113 thriller of a victory against Denver on Monday night, the Thunder reminded us again why we can't look away.
by Jenni Carlson Published: November 18, 2013

Scott Brooks turned toward the scorer's table and slammed his palms on the padded top.

Thunder fans know the feeling.

This season has been a wee bit frustrating. This team isn't always pretty. Isn't always smooth. Isn't always all that easy to watch.

A championship contender, this doesn't yet appear to be.

But after a 115-113 thriller of a victory against the Nuggets on Monday night, the Thunder reminded us again why we can't look away.

These guys always make things entertaining.

And it was never more thrilling than in the fourth quarter.

“In that fourth quarter, we really locked in and did a much better job of playing inspired basketball,” Brooks said.

The Thunder trailed by nine points at the end of the third quarter, and before you could blink, the Nuggets had extended that lead to 12 points.

But gradually, the Thunder cut into the lead. With a three-point guard lineup — Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher, who continues to play like a much younger man, played along side Kevin Durant and Nick Collison, then Serge Ibaka — the Thunder pestered the Nuggets. After taking that 12-point lead, the Nuggets had eight consecutive possessions without a field goal.

By the time they finally hit a shot again, their lead had been whittled down to a possession.

“Just gotta love guys that play with everything they have,” Brooks said.

The Thunder coach was talking specifically about Fisher, who Brooks said ignited the turnaround, but he could've easily been talking about every guy in Thunder blue who played the fourth quarter.

No one slacked.

After a Westbrook shot was blocked out of bounds with about five minutes remaining, Durant fired a shot. A Nugget defender was close by, but Jackson swooped in and poked at the ball. He got a piece of it, enough to jar it loose.

Jackson eventually corralled the rebound.

Then, Westbrook hoisted a three. He posed after releasing the ball — Hey, Russ, you know you're allowed to follow your shot, right? — and when the shot clanged off the iron, he was still posing.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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