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Vitals: Thunder at Nuggets

Vitals: Thunder at Nuggets Vitals: Thunder at Nuggets

Originally Published: Dec 14, 2009 2:36 PM CDT

Vitals | Recap

Dave Carty
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

Oklahoma City Thunder (12-10) at Denver Nuggets (17-7)
Monday, December 14, 2009, 8:00 p.m. CST
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
Game 23 of 82

Anticipated Starting Lineups

Oklahoma City (Away)
Denver (Home)
PG
Russell Westbrook
16.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 6.8 APG
Chauncey Billups
17.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 5.8 APG
SG
Thabo Sefolosha
6.1 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 1.9 APG
Aaron Afflalo
8.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.6 APG
SF
Kevin Durant
28.3 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 3.1 APG
Carmelo Anthony
30.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.1 APG
PF
Jeff Green
15.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.7 APG
Kenyon Martin
10.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 APG
C
Nenad Krstic
8.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 0.6 APG
Nene Hilario
13.3 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 2.5 APG


Injuries
Oklahoma City: G/F, Kyle Weaver (shoulder, out); G, Kevin Ollie (knee, out).
Denver: F, Malik Allen, (flu, questionable).

Where to find it?
On TV: Fox Sports Oklahoma
On Radio: Thunder Radio Network

What you need to know?
These teams last met last April in a shootout of a game. Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony matched each other with 31 points in the Nuggets’ 122-112 win. This year’s edition of the Nuggets is just as quick and deadly on offense. Anthony leads the NBA with 30.3 PPG – 1.5 points better than runner-up LeBron James – and has scored 40-plus points four times this season. Anthony is taking over games and thrusting himself into the discussion of “NBA’s best player.” There’s talk that the Nuggets still need help in the paint, but with a league-best 108.5 team points per game, the offense makes up for a middle-of-the-road rebounding effort.

The Thunder fell victim to another second half letdown against King James and the Cleveland Cavaliers Monday night. Oklahoma City scored just 13 points in the fourth quarter, allowing the Cavs to roll away with an easy 102-89 win in what was an otherwise tight game. The Thunder continued to hit free throws – nailing 25 of 29 – and maintained its hold as the league’s best free throw shooting team, but shot poorly again from long range.

Who to watch?
Anthony has matured into one of the league’s best players. His talent was inherent from day one at Syracuse University, where he led the Orangemen to an NCAA title in his freshman year. While his numbers have been impressive, analysts have been quick to dismiss Anthony as a “good, not great” player. Thus far this season, he’s shattered that perception, playing dominant basketball.

After Monday’s loss to the Cavaliers, Durant said the Thunder would be ready for a tough upcoming stretch. “We’re professionals.” he said. “We come to play every night.” The Thunder will need to bounce back strong to make a statement against the Nuggets and it will be up to Durant to lead that charge. The Thunder has disappointed at times when playing in back-to-back games. Add in facing two of the league’s best players – both small forwards – and Durant will need all the energy he can get to meet the challenge.
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