Oklahoma City Wins Thriller to Take Series Lead


Thursday, May 26th 2011, 12:21 pm
By: News On 6


Originally Published: Apr 17, 2011 11:30 PM CDT

Grant Belcher
Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY – This series is not going to be for the faint of heart.

A hectic opening game in OKC on Sunday gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series thanks to a 107-103 victory.

A Thunder Blue-clad sellout crowd, including thousands of fans outside the arena watching on big screens, certainly got its money’s worth in the game.

Denver came out of the gate scorching, connecting on its first eight shots and shooting nearly 70 percent in the first quarter.

The Nuggets led by as many as 13 early as Thunder players, obviously amped up from the energy of the crowd, took a while to find a rhythm.

It took until the end of the second quarter for OKC to even up the game again, with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant combining for 10 points in the final 2:10 of the half.

Denver led 60-59 at the break.

Two minutes into the second half, a jumper from Westbrook gave the Thunder their first lead of the game.

Eric Maynor drained a 3-pointer at the end of the third to give OKC a four-point lead heading into the final quarter.

Oklahoma City increased its lead to eight with six minutes to play, but Denver rattled off a nine-point run to take the lead once again at 99-98.

But the big names for OKC came through in the clutch as a tip from Kendrick Perkins and a jumper from Westbrook put OKC up three.

The Thunder shot below their average from the free-throw line – 78 percent – but hit them down the stretch to seal the first game of the series.

Kevin Durant was huge for OKC, scoring a career playoff high 41 points and adding nine rebounds.

Westbrook’s stat line was just as impressive, putting up 31 points, seven assists and six boards.

One area of concern for Scott Brooks and the Thunder moving forward in the series was the points in the paint totals for Denver center Nene and the Nuggets post players.

Nene had 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting despite leaving the game for an extended period with a right foot injury. Denver outscored OKC 46-28 in the paint.

Game two will take place on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Arena.