Kevin Durant scores 40 to boost Thunder over Nuggets
Kevin Durant's shots kept dropping, and it didn't seem to matter whether he was off-balance, falling away or putting the ball up in traffic.
The reigning MVP scored 40 points, Russell Westbrook had 26 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat Denver 124-114 on Monday night to hand the Nuggets their sixth loss in a row.
"My teammates were looking for me. I just tried to finish," said Durant, who had his 43rd career 40-point game, the most by any player since he entered the NBA in 2007-08. "I shot some bad shots, but luckily they went in. My teammates kept feeding me. They gave me energy. I looked to the bench, the guys were up cheering for me. That pushed me over the top a little bit."
The Nuggets tried to slow down Durant with double teams and by picking him up as soon as he got near the 3-point line, but it didn't do much good.
"It was tough," Ty Lawson said. "When he gets hot like that, we've got to put two players on him. He's two, three steps back from the 3-point line. You've got to live with that. Those were tough shots he was hitting."
Durant matched a career best by connecting on seven 3-pointers and finished 13 of 19 from the floor. Mitch McGary added 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder.
"We were moving the ball," coach Scott Brooks said. "We were doing a good job of setting up and getting open. And Kevin was on fire. Everything was falling for him from the 3-point line. And the bigs did a great job setting picks on quite a few of them."
The Nuggets, who have lost 13 of 14, were led by Wilson Chandler's 23 points. Kenneth Faried and Lawson each added 22 for Denver, which also lost its sixth straight at home -- its longest home skid since dropping seven in a row at the Pepsi Center from Feb. 6 to March 2, 2003.
"When I talk about the kind of losses that I can live with, this is one of them," coach Brian Shaw said. "I thought our guys showed a lot of heart. That is a pretty good team that Oklahoma City has and there are two really good players (Durant and Westbrook) on that team that are really hard to contend with."
Trailing by 14 at halftime, the Nuggets scored the first nine points of the third quarter to pull to 73-68. But Westbrook countered with a 3 to spark a 13-3 burst that put the Thunder back in front by 15. Durant added three more 3-pointers later in the third, and Oklahoma City led 106-92 going into the final period.
The Nuggets used a 9-0 burst capped by Lawson's running jumper to cut Oklahoma City's lead to 115-106 with 5:29 remaining. The Thunder responded with a burst of their own, going in front by 13 on Westbrook's bank shot with 3:47 left and maintaining a double-digit advantage the rest of the way.
Durant scored 16 during Oklahoma City's 41-point second quarter, including two 3s in the last 1:46 before halftime, to help the Thunder take a 73-59 lead at the break.
Oklahoma City led by as many as 22 early on, but a 13-4 spurt by the Nuggets midway through the second period helped narrow the gap.
Thunder: Rookie C Steven Adams will be sidelined at least three weeks after undergoing surgery Monday to repair a broken bone in his right hand. He got hurt Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers. ... C Kendrick Perkins returned from a one-game suspension. He was disciplined for a head-to-head collision with New Orleans guard Tyreke Evans on Friday.
Nuggets: G Jameer Nelson missed a third consecutive game because of an Achilles tendon injury. ... C JaVale McGee was in uniform but, still bothered by the aftereffects of the flu, did not play. ... Rookie C Jusuf Nurkic was added to the Rising Stars Challenge, the NBA's showcase for first- and second-year players on Friday night, as the replacement for Adams.