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SPORTS: Oklahoma City Thunder

Russ-less Thunder Use Scoring Explosion To Destroy Nuggets

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

No Russ, no letdown.

Six Thunder players finished in double digits as Oklahoma City cruised to a 117-96 win over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night at Chesapeake Arena.

This one was never in doubt. The Nuggets led 13-10 five minutes in, but that was the final bright spot for Denver.  

Oklahoma City exploded on a 12-0 run to take a 22-13 lead and seize complete control.  Later, leading 26-20, OKC took off running again. A 15-2 run extended the lead to 41-22 and helped the Thunder hold a 17-point lead after one.  

Denver came out strong in the second, starting the period on an 10–0 run to get within seven.  The Thunder responded with an 8-0 run of its own to stretch the lead back to a comfortable margin.  

OKC ended the half scoring a season-high 72 points and took a 14-point lead into the locker room.  Kevin Durant hd 22 points and six assists in the half, while Serge Ibaka, Reggie Jackson and Caron Butler also scored in double figures.  

Things stayed out of control in the second half. The Thunder outscored Denver by three in the third and in the fourth to cruise to a win.  

Russell Westbrook wasn't available on Monday as the Thunder continue to monitor his minutes.  Part of that routine is for Westbrook to avoid playing in back-to-back situations. 

"We've sat down as a group and we have a plan. Everything has been as we've planned it out. I'm not saying going forward that we have to stick with out plan, but we've been good with us, and it's been good to us."

Brooks added that Westbrook will play Tuesday night at Dallas.

We have our reasons and there's many of them," Brooks said.  "He practiced yesterday and looked great, but we felt that we've had this plan in place and he will just sit out tonight and come back tomorrow."

Durant finished with 27 points and eight assists.  It was the 35th straight game in which Durant has scored 25 points.  

"He makes it look easy but it's not easy what he does," Brooks explained. "He demands a lot of attention."

Butler spoke highly of Durant's abilities.  

"He's an unselfish superstar," Butler explained.  "Probably one of the most unselfish superstars I've ever seen, or to ever play the game. And I've played with a lot of (superstars) from Kobe to Dwyane Wade to Dirk (Nowitzki) to Gilbert Arenas in his prime and I haven't seen a guy like him who can score pretty much at will but a willing passer and facilitator and I think that's the growth of his game. It's something special to watch."

Jackson played a great game filling in for Westbrook. The sixth-man-of-the-year candidate added 16 points and a career-high 11 assists. 

"He's played well as a starter and he's played well as a guy coming off the bench," Brooks said of Jackson. "He's gonna have to do that for a few more games but I thought tonight's game was one of his better games. He really got the guys involved and got ‘em good looks (with) 11 assists."

Ibaka finished with 15 points and seven boards and Steven Adams chipped in 10 points, six rebounds and five steals.  

The Thunder bench was also active, combining for 44 points.  Butler scored 23 while Nick Collison finished with 10 points and six boards; his evening highlighted by a rare corner 3-pointer to which the Thunder fans erupted.  No Thunder played more than 33 minutes. 

"He's getting more and more comfortable every single game," Durant said of Butler. He had that post up working tonight, he had a smaller guy on him and he took advantage of it. That's what we want him to do. He was aggressive and we need him to do that for the rest of the year."

All five Denver starters finished in double figures, led by Ty Lawson's 25.

The win improved the Thunder to 52-18 and kept them within two games of San Antonio for first in the West.  OKC is back at it on Tuesday night in Dallas. As always, stick with News9.com/sports for your full Thunder coverage.  

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