Found February 28, 2013 on
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.
Oklahoma City matched its largest margin of victory this season and held an opponent below 75 points for the third time in February.
"We are playing off our defense and getting stops and let the offense take care of itself," Westbrook added. "It all starts with defense regardless of what we are doing offensively."
Westbrook scored a game-high 29 while Kevin Durant posted his second triple-double since the All-Star break with 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Durant tied a season low with eight field-goal attempts and had fewer than 20 points for the third time in four games, a stretch during which he's averaged 11.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists.
"I think Kevin continues to make a concerted effort to be a leader by example in terms of playing the game the right way and not being overly concerned with how many points he scores each night, but really just making the right plays," Derek Fisher said.
Fisher was scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting in his first game with the Thunder after signing with them for the stretch run for the second straight season. Ronnie Brewer had five points in 12 minutes in his debut after being acquired in a trade with New York.
The Thunder have dropped four of five on the road and now visit a Nuggets team which is one of the league's best at home, winning nine in a row and 14 of 15.
Denver (37-22) has surpassed 110 points in four straight overall as Lawson continues to fuel the scoring.
The point guard has at least 20 points in eight consecutive games, the longest such streak of his career. He is averaging 26.1 points on 52.8 percent shooting over that span but hasn't stopped making plays for teammates, with his 8.0 assists per game surpassing his season mark of 7.1.
Coach George Karl has started to lean more on Lawson for offense, and he came through with 30 points in a 111-109 win at Portland on Wednesday.
"I just said to him, 'We're not gonna run any more plays,'" Karl said of what he told Lawson late in the game. "'You've got one option, go into the paint and find it. Find the shot, not someone else.'"
The fourth-year pro's heightened scoring may be more crucial if top scorer Danilo Gallinari (bruised thigh) missed a third straight game.
This season series has seen each team win on its home floor, including a 121-118 Denver victory in overtime Jan. 20. Lawson totaled 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting in those two games.
Over the last five meetings, Durant is averaging 32.8 points and Westbrook is at 32.2.
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AROUND THE WEB
OKLAHOMA CITY Right after Wednesday's win against New Orleans Kevin Durant just shook his head.
Oh, what could have been.
Yes, Durant had another triple-double, this one 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, but the possibility of something spectacular could have been lingered.
Too bad coach Scott Brooks benched Durant. Again.
Seems like it happens all the time, and in...
The Denver Nuggets are hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night and it has started vivaciously thanks to the athletic and run-and-gun style of both teams. Watch Kevin Durant be, well, Kevin Durant as he threw up this shot that went up and around the rim. Of course it went in. Why? K.D. That’s why! [...]The post Kevin Durant’s Up-and-Under Trick Shot..Whatever. Just...
OKC Thunder superstar Kevin Durant self-proclaims himself ‘Inspector gadget’ as he goes to Instagram with a chic ensemble before the Nuggets game tonight, leaving his photo with the caption ‘Inspector Gadget’. Kevin was looking suave donned in a khaki trench coat which layers over a spread collar shirt and stripe neck tie combo. Durant completes his ensemble with neutral...
The Thunder have reassigned Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb and DeAndre Liggins to the Tulsa 66ers.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, Kevin Durant recorded his third career triple-double and the Oklahoma City Thunder finished a perfect three-game homestand by routing the short-handed New Orleans Hornets 119-74 on Wednesday night.
Durant had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists as Oklahoma City finished a dominant four-game sweep of the season series against...
Is there anything that Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant can't do?For those of you who have your doubts, you might want to check out this clip of Durant scoring on an up-and-under circus shot against the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.Watch as KD drives past JaVale McGee and Wilson Chandler for the incredible hoop:(Courtesy of SB Nation)
The Denver Nuggets went into the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead on the Oklahoma City Thunder, but couldn’t get as many fast-break points as they did earlier in the game. Thus with less than 17 seconds to go, Denver’s point guard, Ty Lawson, dribbles the ball, and hits a long-range two-pointer to seal a [...]The post Ty Lawson’s Game-Winner (and Bernie) Versus Thunder ...
Wilson Chandler tied his career high with 35 points and Ty Lawson's jumper with 0.2 seconds left lifted the Denver Nuggets to a 105-103 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night.
Guarded tightly by Thabo Sefolosha, Lawson swished his jumper from just inside the 3-point arc on the right wing. With no time to catch and shoot, the Thunder failed to get off a final tip...
Cue the music. Move it like Bern is happening. Has been way too long since I moved it like Bern so I think today is a good day to do it. Ty Lawson creates enough space to put a shot up over Thabo for the win. Just the Nuggets quietly sneaking up the Western Conference ranks. Iggy is playing better. No big deal here.
Move it like Bern.