B team: A. The Thunder bench was exceptional, including the five-plus minutes in the second quarter when no starter was on the court. The Thunder reserves cut a 33-24 Nugget lead to 47-40. In the fourth quarter, Scotty Brooks declined to go with a straight B-team lineup; Kevin Durant played with Eric Maynor, Nazr Mohammed, Nick Collison and James Harden. That fivesome maintained the Thunder's four-point lead in 3 1/2 minutes.
Officiating: D. The foul calls were fine, both ways. But the refs missed the offensive goaltending on Kendrick Perkins' tip, which instead became the basket that gave the Thunder the lead for good, 102-101. Perkins had his hand in the cylinder and in the net. You can't miss that call.
Revelry: A. The blue-out — blue T-shirts for every patron — created a great scene. R&B singer Rob Clay provided a rousing national anthem. Mom and pop Durant even joined the “MVP” chant with 7.7 seconds left in the game. And just in case you didn't know this was a big game, NBA superfan James Goldstein, in his customary black leather, sat courtside.
First quarter defense: D. The Thunder played like its pre-Perkins days. Very soft inside. The Nuggets made their first seven shots and 15 of their first 21. Denver had 31 points in less than 10 minutes. That has to change.
Fourth quarter defense: A. The Nuggets scored just 21 points in the final period, making just seven of 17 shots. In the final 3:05, Denver had five straight empty possessions, until foul shots with 6.2 seconds left and the Thunder up five.