Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points in the Nuggets’ 102-93 win over the Thunder on Monday night, but the other player who did the most damage was Chris "Birdman” Andersen. He posted a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds). "We didn’t a very good job keeping them off the offensive glass,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Denver’s 14 offensive boards. "Their bigs created a lot of energy for them. Andersen is a guy who does that and does it well.”
MEMORY LANEDenver didn’t need an Anthony buzzer-beater Monday night, but his two game-winners in the Ford Center last season are a reminder just how much the Thunder’s roster has changed in one year. Only five players from last year’s mid-December rotation are still on the roster. And Kyle Weaver is out four months with a shoulder injury. The young trio (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green), plus Nick Collison essentially are the only players still around who played significant roles last season. Nenad Krstic and (January) and Thabo Sefolosha (mid-February) were added after the holidays.
ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENTAfter coaching as an assistant three seasons in Denver, Brooks said the Mile High City’s altitude can be a factor. The key is pre-game warmups. "As soon as you get your second wind, everyone is fine,” Brooks said. "Visiting teams have to be prepared for it. You have to understand the first five minutes could be tough.” Oklahoma City fared OK in the first quarter. It was the Nuggets 30-17 edge in the second quarter that put the Thunder in a hole.
GRAHAM UPDATEJoey Graham, who helped lead Oklahoma State to the Final Four, is in his first season with the Nuggets. Graham is averaging only 10.2 minutes a game but started three games when Kenyon Martin was out with finger and leg injuries. "It’s absolutely a blessing to be here,” Graham said. "But they pretty much have the same nucleus as last year. I’m like the new kid on the block. I have to earn my stripes... It’s like the old clichÃ© says, ‘You have to be ready when your name is called. You never know when someone might go down like Kenyon did.’”
FAST BREAK. . .Jeff Green suffered a cut lip early in the third quarter. After receiving seven stitches, Green returned in the fourth quarter. ... Denver improved to 11-1 at home. ... D.J. White played eight minutes, his first action since playing six minutes in Oklahoma City’s lopsided loss to the Celtics. ... Nuggets players and coach George Karl singing separate parts of "Winter Wonderland” was an entertaining video clip between quarters. ... Johan Petro, traded from Oklahoma City to Denver last season, said it was fun to finally play for a playoff team for the first time. Petro, though, has played only 39 minutes all season. ... Brooks is giving the players today off.