The NBA’s hottest team isn’t just winning. The Oklahoma City
Thunder have been completely running by the competition.
The Thunder will look to extend the longest active win streak in
the NBA to seven games when they visit the Denver Nuggets on
Oklahoma City (19-4), which has won 14 of its previous 15, has
been excelling primarily with speed and athleticism on both ends of
the floor. The Thunder are averaging 17.8 fast break points, one of
the best totals in the league, with stars Kevin Durant and Russell
Westbrook leading the way.
Durant leads the NBA in scoring at 28.5 points per game, and
he’s done his best work while attacking the basket, with 95 of his
206 field goals coming at or around the rim.
Westbrook is averaging 21.0 points and has been creating
opportunities to open the floor with a team-leading 40 steals.
“It just gets us easy baskets,” Durant told the team’s official
website about their up-tempo style. “Once you start to hit layups
and get dunks, it opens the flood gates a little bit.”
Against the Magic on Sunday, the Thunder ran out to 27
fast-break points and scored 50 in the paint. They were a bit
sluggish in the fourth quarter, however, allowing Orlando to rally
from a 16-point deficit before holding on to win 101-98.
“We were able to get started there, but you have to be able to
play 48 minutes,” said Durant, who had 28 points and nine rebounds.
“(On Sunday) we had some tough stretches but we just kept
If the Nuggets are going to slow the Thunder, they’ll need a
better defensive performance than the last time these teams met.
Durant scored 38 points and Westbrook added 30 in Oklahoma City’s
115-113 home victory on Nov. 18.
Five Denver players scored in double figures in that one, led by
Ty Lawson’s 29, but the Nuggets allowed the Thunder to shoot 13 for
27 from 3-point range.
The Nuggets (14-9) have been playing well at home of late,
winning seven of their last eight in Denver. Still, coach Brian
Shaw knows his team’s level of play needs to rise against the
“I told them that if we want any chance winning against Oklahoma
City, we’re going to have to do a lot better in every area to even
have a chance to win that game,” Shaw said.
The team has received a spark from Nate Robinson, who is
averaging 14.7 points since Nov. 25 despite not starting a single
game. While he’s always been fearless on the offensive end despite
his 5-foot-9 stature, Robinson has also improved on defense.
In the team’s last game, a 102-93 victory against New Orleans on
Sunday, Robinson had two blocked shots. It marked only the fourth
time in the guard’s nine-year career that he has recorded more than
one block in a game.
“I told the guards to watch out, I’m blocking shots,” Robinson
joked. “I just really try to take pride in my defense.”