Whether they meet in the first round of the playoffs or not, it was clear on Tuesday that the Thunder and Nuggets hold each other in high regard.
Both team's coaches gushed over the other's talent and the job each has done in getting the most out of their respective rosters.
“They are a great young team, and we are trying to prove that we are a good young team,” said Denver coach George Karl.
Thunder coach Scott Brooks returned the pleasantries.
“They're a good team,” Brooks said. “They defend you. They rebound the ball. They pass the ball. And they get out in transition and shoot 3s. They've got a lot of talented players and they're tough to match up against.”
Brooks, who served as an assistant under Karl, was not surprised that the Nuggets entered Tuesday's game 15-4 since trading Carmelo Anthony to New York. Many observers thought the Nuggets would tank and miss the playoffs.
“The guy is a winner,” Brooks said of Karl. “He's a fighter. He competes. What he's done with his health issues has been amazing to come back and do what he's able to do and fight back through his son's health issues. You can just tell the guy has no quit in him and the team doesn't. They're a fun team to watch.”
MOHAMMED PLAYING WITH STITCHES
Center Nazr Mohammed played Tuesday night with four stitches above his right eye after taking a shot to the head Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers. Mohammed had to leave the game against the Clippers to receive the stitches and did not return.
Mohammed said the sutures haven't impaired his vision and haven't been a problem.
“It's all right. It's just a couple of stitches,” Mohammed said. “I didn't get hit hard. It's nothing really.”