Thunder snaps Nuggets' win streak

by Darnell Mayberry Published: January 16, 2013

Here was the first question posed to George Karl during his pre-game media session.

“Coach, what kind of a test do you expect tonight from the Oklahoma City Thunder?”

The Denver Nuggets coach laughed, as if deep down he thought the inquiry was as silly as it sounded. As if the Thunder's threats weren't obvious.

Karl answered anyway, politely going into how great the Thunder's offense is and how its defense has a way of making teams make mistakes.

“They're a team that has a championship determination,” Karl said. “Right now, they're playing on a mission.”

Karl and his Nuggets just happened to be the team standing in the way Wednesday night.

The Thunder dominated Denver, 117-97, leading from start to finish inside Chesapeake Energy Arena before bumping its league-best record to 31-8. Oklahoma City led by as many as 28 points and never allowed the Nuggets to pull closer than 15 after halftime.

It quite possibly was the most complete victory of the season from the Thunder. There have been bigger blowouts (a 45-point thrashing of Charlotte) and more attractive affairs (a thrilling road win over Brooklyn). But rarely has OKC handled business in the manner it did Wednesday against a playoff-bound team playing almost entirely at full strength.

“It was a solid game throughout the game by all of our guys,” said Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

Oklahoma City set the tone with its defense on Denver's first two possessions. Both ended in Nuggets turnovers. The next three trips for Denver ended in long, contested jump shots. That's all that was available to the Nuggets when the Thunder clogged the paint and shut off passing lanes. It was a critical part of the game plan against a team that entered the game leading the league in paint points at 56.2 per game.

“The ball pressure was good, and the activity on the ball, we had a lot of hands around the basketball,” Brooks said. “We were using length. They didn't see a lot of openings early on and I think when you do that it gives the appearance that it's not going to be an easy night to score on us.”

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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