Though the Oklahoma City Thunder score more than any other team in the NBA, it might be an improving defense that proves to be the difference in their title chase.
Friday night will see that defense face a tough test when the Thunder host the Denver Nuggets, whose high-octane attack has been bolstered by Ty Lawson's emergence as a dynamic scorer.
Oklahoma City (42-15) leads the league with 106.8 points per game, and Denver has moved up to third (105.5) while averaging 112.6 during its current 13-4 surge.
A season-worst three-game losing streak seems like a distant memory for the Thunder, who have since won three in row by an average of 30.3 points. As impressive as the offense has been during that span, averaging 116.0 points, the defense has been just as good in the last two games as opponents averaged 73.0 points on 31.9 percent shooting.
"We are doing great on defense," Russell Westbrook told the team's official website after a 119-74 home win over New Orleans on Wednesday.