The Nuggets were outscored in the first quarter and never could recover. Durant was hot, Butler (see: Caron) was hot, and that’s about all it took for the Thunder to ride this one home. Grades inside.
|Kenneth Faried, PF 28 MIN | 5-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -20
Faried started off hot, hitting some impressive hooks over Ibaka, but dissipated as the game progressed. Though he still notched a double-double, he was only a few near misses away from having an impressive night statistically.
|Quincy Miller, SF 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3-5 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -13
Quincy played with tons of confidence and had several moments of glory but was ultimately overmatched by Durant. Still, he’s showing flashes of potential that are hard to ignore.
|Timofey Mozgov, C 32 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-3 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | -20
Mozgov had a good hustle game. He hit the glass hard and followed up his teammates’ missed shots which resulted in some nice put-backs.
|Ty Lawson, PG 33 MIN | 5-11 FG | 13-16 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 25 PTS | -14
Lawson is playing with so much confidence that performances like these are starting to seem effortless. I already can’t wait to see what he does next year.
|Randy Foye, SG 35 MIN | 4-14 FG | 0-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | -20
Foye’s shot wasn’t falling and that’s about all that matters with him.
|Darrell Arthur, PF 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | 0
Arthur played with lots of energy but just couldn’t hang with the Thunder’s athleticism.
|Anthony Randolph, SF 17 MIN | 2-3 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -2
Randolph moved the ball well, evident by his four assists on the night. The Nuggets seem to be doing a better job overall of making the extra pass in each possession and Randolph certainly helped in that regard.
|Aaron Brooks, PG 28 MIN | 1-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 5 PTS | -8
Brooks couldn’t hit anything yet his defensive energy was admirable.
|Evan Fournier, SG 24 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-3 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -8
Like Arthur and most of his other teammates, Fournier was playing with confidence but was just overwhelmed by the Thunder’s talent, length and athleticism.
The Nuggets basically ran into a freight train. There was nothing they could have done to win this game. They were over matched in nearly every manner yet they never really gave up. They were also prepared from the start and seemed at peace with the product they put out on the floor. This all reflects well on Shaw. Granted, the defense was atrocious, but again, no amount of defense could have stifled the Thunder on this night.
Three Things We Saw
- The Nuggets were moving the ball extremely well for most of the game. This was nice to see. However, too many times they tried to make a complicated extra pass instead of making a simple extra pass. This resulted in numerous unforced turnovers. Had the Nuggets limited these types of possessions they would have greatly increased their chances to keep the game closer.
- Caron Butler was on fire. He scored 23 points. He was the Thunder’s second leading scorer behind Durant, who had 27. The thing is: Caron Butler is not that good. So why did he score almost as many points as the hottest player in the NBA? Because the Nuggets were not playing defense this game. When Caron Butler is scoring a lot, that’s your first indication that you’re not playing defense… at all.
- I’ve been watching a lot of March Madness lately and have therefore been thinking a lot about the NBA Draft. One thing I’ve noticed about the Thunder over the years is that Sam Presti values athleticism. Steven Adams, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Eric Bledsoe, Perry Jones. These are guys who lack nothing in the athletic department, and most have turned out to be studs or at least valuable contributors in the NBA. Moral of the story: The Nuggets need athleticism to compete for a title — or hell, just to compete out West. With the draft coming up in three months and the Nuggets still in the running for a high pick, perhaps Tim Connelly should consider zeroing in on some much-needed freak athletes for the 2014-15 roster.
Next up: Wednesday, March 26 @ 6:30 p.m. (MST) vs. San Antonio. Going to the game? Save money and get cheap Denver Nuggets tickets here.