21-year-olds: A. Serge Ibaka had the best big game of his life, with 22 points and 16 rebounds, in 39 minutes. And while James Harden didn't score after halftime, he had 10 in the first half, including seven in the second quarter when the Thunder took the lead. And don't forget Harden's last-play defense on J.R. Smith.
Composure: D. From Nazr Mohammed's air-balled foul shot, to Russell Westbrook's and Kevin Durant's technical fouls, to Kendrick Perkins' full court throwaway pass in the final minute, Thunder heads didn't always seem to be in the game.
Strategy: A. Scotty Brooks had his best coaching game ever in the playoffs. His move of Kevin Durant to power forward in the second quarter created a mismatch that keyed a Thunder run, and Brooks had to mix and match his interior players, since Kendrick Perkins, Nick Collison and Nazr Mohammed found early foul trouble.
Basket protection: B. Hard to say much bad about holding the NBA's highest-scoring team to 94 points, including just 63 the final three quarters. The Thunder blocked nine shots. But the early defense was not good; one play into the second quarter, the Nuggets had five dunks. Perkins' foul trouble hurt.
Go-to guys: A. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had shaky nights, combining to make just 13 of 37 shots. But they scored when the Thunder had to have it. In the last 9:23, Westbrook (13) and Durant (nine) scored 22 of the Thunder's 26 points.
Foul shooting: C. The Thunder's 33-of-43 is good for most teams, but not the Thunder. And Durant and Westbrook going 1-of-4 from the line in 37 seconds is a recipe for disaster.
Point-guard defense: A. The strength of this Denver team — its point guard play — was no factor Saturday night. Ty Lawson and Raymond Felton combined for 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting, with eight assists. Westbrook and Thabo Sefolosha did an excellent job containing the roadrunning point guards.