The Denver Nuggets showed once again why they hold the second-best home record in the NBA. They held off the Oklahoma City Thunder on a game winning shot from the Nuggets best clutch player of late, Ty Lawson. The Thunder had a lead up to 11 points and the Nuggets led by as many as 12, but the game was neck and neck at the end and Lawson hit a step-back jumper to put the home team up two with only 0.2 seconds left.
Both teams shot pretty poorly from the free-throw line at 70.6%, but that is to be expected from Denver even at home. The Thunder had averaged 94.2% from the same line in the last five games played until coming into the Pepsi Center. Those points from the line matter in close games and the outcome of this game may have been altered drastically if either team could’ve made a free-throw.
Two players stood out for these teams and surprisingly the player for the Thunder wasn’t Kevin Durant. Instead it was Russell Westbrook with a game high 38 points. He also had six rebounds and five assists and was 2-4 on three-pointers including a 36-footer to end the first half. Westbrook is averaging 35.3 points in the three games against Denver this year and the Nuggets hope to shut him down when they play again March 19th in Oklahoma City.
The player to step up for the Nuggets was a player that doesn’t even start. It’s a player that had some negatively-spun trade rumors and claims of wanting out of Denver circulating around the trade deadline. Wilson Chandler tied a career high in points with 35 and helped Denver’s bench outscore OKC’s 71-11. Chandler had a +/- of +18, while all of the Nuggets’ starters had a negative rating. Danilo Gallinari still seems to be returning to form after coming back from his injury but Chandler has stepped up nicely in his place.
It’s good to see the Nuggets have a player that wants to take the last shot. A player that not only wants to take the last shot, but a player who MAKES the last shot and actually wins the game. Lawson will hope to keep his form ascending in the Nuggets next game, a home game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks are one game above .500 on the road while the Nuggets seek to win their tenth in a row at home. I think it can pretty much be a guarantee that if the Nuggets play like they did against the Thunder they can definitely beat the Hawks to win their fifth overall game in a row.
The Los Angeles Clippers have also won four in a row and the two teams will collide on Thursday night in Denver, maybe battling to be the Western Conference’s hottest team. The Nuggets play the Sacramento Kings in California on a back-to-back after playing Atlanta Monday night.
The Nuggets are still looking to move up a spot in the Conference standings and the next three games give them the potential to do so if the Memphis Grizzlies lose a game against one of the sub-.500 teams they have lined up in their next four. They gave the Miami Heat a run for their money, so it doesn’t look good for the Nuggets moving up anytime soon. The two teams meet March 15th in Denver and the Nuggets have a chance to win the season series with a win.