OKC Takes 3-0 Series Lead against Nuggets

Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:22 pm
By: News On 6

Originally Published: Apr 23, 2011 11:19 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

DENVER – Saturday’s playoff contest in Denver required toughness in every facet of the game.

In a game riddled with fouls, momentum swings and shooting slumps, OKC proved why it belongs in the playoffs with a hard-fought 97-94 victory against the Nuggets.

The win gives Oklahoma City a 3-0 series lead, which is a good omen for the Thunder because no team has ever come back from a three-game deficit to win an NBA playoff series. The win was also the franchise's first playoff road win since the move to OKC.

While the Thunder didn’t blow the game wide open as they did in Game 2 in OKC, they showed why they are a higher seed than the Nuggets.

OKC played a sloppy game overall, shot poorly and dealt with severe foul trouble but still controlled the game for the majority of the night.

Denver held tight for much of the first half, especially while Kendrick Perkins sat on the bench with foul trouble. Perkins picked up three first half fouls in just a few minutes of playing time.

But with 3:39 remaining in the first half, OKC went on a quick 9-0 to establish their authority and took a seven-point lead into the break.

The Nuggets clawed their way back in and refused to fold as J.R. Smith hit a 3-pointer near the end of the third quarter to tie the game at 71.

Denver even took its first lead of the second half with 9:41 remaining as Chris Anderson converted a free throw.

But Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combined for OKC’s next 10 points to give their team the lead for good.

The Thunder got a scare in the end, as a 3-pointer from J.R. Smith pulled the Nuggets to within one, but OKC broke the press for a wide open dunk and hit free throws to finish out the contest.

Oklahoma City had a rough night overall, shooting 36 percent from the field and 28 from 3-point range.

The Thunder ended with six players racking up four or more fouls.

The frustrations even boiled over at several points in the game, with Westbrook and Durant picking up rare technical fouls after no-calls.

Durant led all scorers with 26 points and put up three blocks and Russell Westbrook added 23 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Serge Ibaka had a monster night with 22 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.

Oklahoma City will look to sweep the series on Monday in Denver. Tipoff is set for 9:30 p.m. central time on Monday.