NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, January 20th (All times Eastern)
Oklahoma City Thunder (32-8) at Denver Nuggets (24-18), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Oklahoma City Thunder have won six in a row, but will face a stern test on Sunday night when they visit the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.
Oklahoma City has the NBA's best winning percentage at .800.
The Thunder have the second-most road wins in the NBA and this is the second contest of a six-game road trip. The excursion got off to a great start with a 117-114 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks, the Thunder's fourth consecutive road win.
Kevin Durant went off for a career-high 52 points in an incredible effort. He only shot 13-for-31 from the field, but went 5-for-9 from long distance. Perhaps the most impressive stat from Durant's amazing night was that he went 21-for-21 from the free-throw line, which was the second-best foul-shooting night in NBA history behind Dominique Wilkins' 23-for-23 night in 1992.
"I just kept fighting and kept believing in myself," Durant said. "My teammates gave me confidence. It's more about the win for me. I was excited at the way we played. We just kept fighting and we got a good win on the road."
Russell Westbrook chipped in 31 points. He and Durant combined for 83 points and what's scary is, that's only the third-highest output from the duo. The pair went off for 91 points on Feb. 19, 2012.
Serge Ibaka and Kevin Martin scored 11 apiece. The Thunder outrebounded the Mavericks by seven, shot a lower field-goal percentage and lower 3-point percentage.
It was just Wednesday when the Thunder topped the Denver Nuggets in Oklahoma City, 117-97. On that night, Durant, Westbrook and Martin tallied 72 points and the Thunder held the Nuggets to 13.3 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
The Nuggets have lost two straight, started by the Thunder setback. On Friday, Denver fell, at home, to the Washington Wizards, the team with the worst record in the NBA.
"The personality of the game is very similar to Minnesota, Orlando, Cleveland, and Golden State," Nuggets coach George Karl said, rattling off the team's disappointing losses this season. "All those games had similar personalities of not having enough effort, not having enough serious basketball."
Ty Lawson led the Nuggets with 29 points. The next highest totals came from bench players Corey Brewer and Andre Miller, who netted 17 points apiece. Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried also cracked the 10-point plateau.
The Nuggets only had one day off to get the awful taste of losing at home to the Wizards out of their collective mouth. The worst team in the league heads out and the best team in the league comes into town.
"We're definitely disappointed," Lawson said after Friday night's demoralizing loss. "It was pretty quiet in here. We have a film session to figure out the things we're doing wrong. Hopefully we have a good showing against OKC on Sunday."
Oklahoma City has won five of the last six in this series and two straight in Denver. The Nuggets captured seven in a row at home before the two most recent Thunder wins.
01/20 10:33:50 ET