os (shooting guards) were playing the fours (power forwards). They never worked on that in practices, nor will they ever."
Harden finished with 14 points on one field goal and 12 free throws. White had a game-high 13 rebounds and 12 points. Mullens added 14 points and eight rebounds.
"I liked Byron," Brooks said. "I thought Byron was very active. He was around the basket and that's what we've been stressing with him. He has to impact a game around the basket. Offensively, he's so consistent. D.J. is so consistent. He brings effort. He's a great teammate. He hasn't gotten a lot of playing time, but he's coachable and everybody likes him. You cheer for a guy like that."
Maynor had six assists and two steals in 21 minutes, trying to direct traffic with a group that never had played side-by-side before in such unique combinations. "You just try to go with the flow," Maynor said. "The main thing of it is you've got to play hard."
Brooks didn't start Durant and Westbrook against Denver so he could give the duo a much-deserved rest in the Thunder's back-to-back road trip. Durant and Westbrook played ball for two straight months as members of Team USA, which won the gold medal at the FIBA World Championship in Turkey.
Asked if Durant and Westbrook understood his reasoning for the break, Brooks smiled and said, "No, not at all. They want to play. There are times they don't understand they need a rest during a game, either. But I like that. I like people with a competitive nature, people who feel that if they're not out there they let the team down. They've earned this (rest). I kind of know what they both do."
The Thunder was competitive early and jumped out to a 13-3 lead. The Nuggets tied the score at the first-quarter buzzer on a 40-footer from J.R. Smith.
Denver buried 13 of 29 3-pointers, led by reserve guard J.R. Smith going 5 for 10 and finishing with 21 points in 23 minutes.
"We got a little happy making 3s, but we were making them," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "It is not my favorite way to win, but the game was a little lop-sided in offensive and defensive energy."
Denver forward Carmelo Anthony, who for months has been rumored to be headed elsewhere in a trade, had 21 points and a team-high nine rebounds. "I am just trying to get it in everybody's mind that we start now," Anthony said. "We did some things good. We did some things we need to work on."
As for Durant sitting out, Anthony said. ""I love playing against him. He is a competitor. I know he is going to compete. We will have many more battles to come."
Thunder Graces The SI NBA Preview Cover