Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson (3) shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Tuesday, March 19, 2013 10:50 pm
Nuggets beat Thunder for first 13-game win streak
By JEFF LATZKEAP Sports Writer
The Nuggets trailed by one at halftime but took control in the third quarter and never let Oklahoma City reclaim the lead. Denver moved within 3 1/2 games of the Thunder in the Northwest Division and became the first team this season to beat Oklahoma City three times.
It's also a big win in the chase for home-court advantage in the playoffs for Denver, which is tied with Miami for the NBA's best home record at 30-3.
Kevin Durant had 34 points and Russell Westbrook chipped in 25 for Oklahoma City, which lost at home for just the fifth time this season.
The Thunder gave up a season-worst 72 points in the paint - Denver's specialty - as both teams struggled throughout the game from 3-point range. The Nuggets had 66 and 60 points in the lane in wins against Oklahoma City in Denver earlier this season.
Denver's previous longest winning streak in the NBA was 12 straight games in 1982. The franchise won 15 in a row in the ABA.
The Nuggets trailed 66-65 at halftime, but took the lead on Danilo Gallinari's 3-pointer and then followed Westbrook's tying, two-handed dunk off an inbound alley-oop pass by charging ahead with a 12-2 run. Andre Iguodala's right-handed, fast-break slam - created by Gallinari's steal - put Denver up 80-70 midway through the third and prompted Scott Brooks' second timeout to try and end the surge.
After back-to-back Thunder baskets, the Nuggets added to their cushion with seven straight points - a Lawson 3-pointer, a Corey Brewer jumper and then an 18-footer by Lawson - to make it 87-74 with 2:59 left in the third.
Oklahoma City got as close as 102-97 when Westbrook hit a 17-foot jumper from the left elbow with 4:08 to play, but Miller had back-to-back jumpers as Denver answered right back with five straight points. Miller closed it out from the foul line after that.
Miller scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, hitting five of six foul shots in the final 69 seconds.
The Nuggets had six players score in double figures, getting 13 apiece from Kenneth Faried and Gallinari, 11 from Corey Brewer and 10 from Iguodala. Faried also grabbed 15 rebounds as Denver overcame a 14-6 first-quarter rebounding deficit to beat Oklahoma City 52-45 on the glass.
Wilson Chandler, who tied his career-high with 35 points in a win at Chicago a night earlier, did not return after separating his left shoulder in the fourth quarter.
Kevin Martin had 14 points off the bench for Oklahoma City and Kendrick Perkins had 11 rebounds, but did not play over the final 18 minutes as Denver build up its big rebounding edge.
The Nuggets were 4 for 21 from 3-pointer range, only slightly better than Oklahoma City's 4 for 25.
The Thunder led 38-28 early in the second after Martin's leaning basket from the right wing as the shot clock was running down. Denver took advantage of Oklahoma City's bench to score the next eight points, all on layups and a dunk, to tighten it up again.
Notes: Nuggets coach George Karl drew a technical foul in the second quarter for complaining to official Marat Kogut after Lawson was called for his third foul against Durant's "rip move," when he swings the ball through a defender's arms. ... Denver's winning streak is the third-longest in the NBA this season, behind Miami's current 23-game run and the Los Angeles Clippers' 17-game streak. Oklahoma City won 12 straight earlier in the season. ... The Heat and San Antonio are the only other teams to beat Oklahoma City twice this season.