NBA Game Summary - Denver at Oklahoma City
(Wednesday, April 7th)
Final Score: Denver 98, Oklahoma City 94
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Chauncey Billups drained the go-ahead free throws in the final minute of regulation and Denver scored the last eight points of the game to escape the Ford Center with a 98-94 victory over Oklahoma City in a battle of Northwest Division foes.
The Thunder, coming off a controversial 140-139 overtime loss to Utah on Tuesday, led by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter before wilting down the stretch, as they went the final nine minutes without a field goal.
Billups scored 15 of his 31 points in the final stanza to help Denver move a half-game ahead of Utah for first place in the division. Carmelo Anthony added 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Arron Afflalo scored 17 in the win, the Nuggets' third straight. Denver is in a three-way tie for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference standings with Dallas and Phoenix.
"It was a big win. [The Thunder] made a big run in the fourth to go up 13. We kept our composure and chipped away at it," Anthony said. "We played some defense, that's what did it."
Kevin Durant went for 33 points and 11 rebounds but was 0-for-6 from the field in the final 12 minutes for the Thunder, who had won four in a row before consecutive setbacks. Russell Westbrook tallied 21 points for Oklahoma City, which is in a three-way tie for the No. 6 seed in the West with San Antonio and Portland.
Anthony went down for a brief period late in the third quarter after his neck bent awkwardly following a drive into Durant's midsection. He briefly exited into the locker room and returned to start the fourth quarter, but the Thunder were still able to extend their lead to 89-76 after a Nick Collison free throw less than five minutes into the final stanza.
Denver, though, scored the next 10 points, cutting the deficit to 89-86 on J.R. Smith's three point play with 5 1/2 minutes left.
The Nuggets continued to trail until Billups followed Anthony's turnaround jumper with a dunk to tie the game at 94-apiece with 1:32 on the clock.
Westbrook came down and missed a diving layup and Billups was fouled at the other end, hitting both from the line with 52.7 left.
Durant missed a mid-range jumper with 41.9 seconds left but gave the hosts another chance with a block on Anthony. However, Durant's runner hit all iron with roughly 10 seconds left, and Anthony sealed the comeback with two at the stripe.
"We just couldn't make any shots in the fourth quarter. We had opportunities to hit threes but we just didn't hit them tonight," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. "This was our fourth game in five nights. It's part of basketball. It's not an excuse."
It was a tight game throughout the first half, with the Thunder taking a 33-30 lead after 12 minutes and a 52-51 advantage at halftime.
Denver went up 67-60 on Afflalo's bucket with 7:04 left in the third quarter. The Nuggets only hit one more field goal the rest of the stanza, and Oklahoma City ran off 13 of 15 points to end the frame.
Durant's three-point play gave the Thunder a 73-71 edge with 2:53 to go, and Westbrook's slam pushed the margin to 80-73 heading to the fourth.
Denver won the season series, 3-1...Both the Nuggets and Thunder have four games left on the regular season schedule...Denver's Chris Anderson did not play due to a sprained ankle...Prior to the game, the NBA admitted that game officials made a mistake on not calling a foul on Utah's C.J. Miles for hitting Durant's arm on a last-second three-point attempt in Tuesday's contest...Collison ended with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Jeff Green had 11 and 10 for the Thunder, who made just 1-of-14 from three-point range...Smith had 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting in the win...Nuggets head coach George Karl, who has been battling neck and throat cancer, completed his final chemotherapy session Wednesday. It was reported over the weekend that Karl will likely miss the first round of the playoffs. He has taken a leave of absence since learning of the cancer and hasn't been on the sideline since March 16.
04/08 02:02:16 ET