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News » Nuggets 102, Thunder 93

Nuggets 102, Thunder 93

Nuggets 102, Thunder 93DENVER (AP) - The Oklahoma City Thunder still can't find a way to beat the Denver Nuggets.

Carmelo Anthony scored 31 points - his fourth straight game with at least 30 - and Denver extended its run of success against Oklahoma City with a 102-93 victory Monday night.

J.R. Smith added 19 points and Chris Andersen had 15 for the Nuggets, who beat Oklahoma City for the fifth consecutive time since the former Seattle SuperSonics relocated there before last season.

"I think we've played the Nuggets hard every time we've faced them, but they're so talented," said Kevin Durant, who led the Thunder with 32 points. "It's tough to guard them when they have the best scorer in the league, getting a 30 a night. Then you have to watch out for Chauncey Billups, J.R. Smith, Ty Lawson. It's tough. They've got a lot of weapons."

It was Durant's ninth straight game of 25 points or more, the longest active streak in the NBA.

Oklahoma City held the Nuggets below their league-leading average of 108.5 points per game but Denver's defense matched the Thunder's aggressiveness, limiting Oklahoma City to 39.2 percent shooting from the field.

"That team is pretty explosive, a dangerous team," Billups said. "They have a lot of young players playing up-tempo style. So I thought our defense was pretty good. Sometimes there were opportunities for us to break it open and we couldn't but defensively we stayed focused."

A key sequence in the final minutes was a case in point. The Thunder, down by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, had a chance to cut Denver's lead to nine but Andersen blocked Nick Collison's layup with 2:44 remaining. That started a fastbreak that Andersen finished with a dunk to rebuild Denver's lead to 96-83.

The Thunder managed to get within 96-88 on Russell Westbrook's layup with 56.9 seconds remaining but the Nuggets hit all six of their free throws down the stretch, including four by Billups.

Anthony said Andersen deserved credit for spearheading the Nuggets' defensive performance with his strong play off the bench. In addition, Andersen, nicknamed "Birdman," matched a season-high with 15 points.

"Bird had a great game tonight - rebounding, defending, hitting the offensive glass," Anthony said. "Just the total game tonight. That's the Bird we know."

Denver coach George Karl said: "We had a 48-minute effort defensively. I think our switching gave some disruption to a young team, back-to-back and on the road. We didn't give them a lot of hope, a lot of confidence."

The Nuggets have won 11 of their last 12 games at the Pepsi Center.

"The last couple of seasons, the home court's been good to us," Anthony added. "After going through the run we did last year, realizing how important home court is, that was one of our main focuses coming into this season. It's a little more focused."

Russell Westbrook and Nick Collison scored 14 points apiece for the Thunder, who haven't beaten the Nuggets since April 2008 when they were still the SuperSonics.

"We have competitive players who have a lot of pride," Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said. "We just didn't do a very good job of keeping them off the offensive glass. They are big and put a lot of energy into it."

With help from a 3-pointer by Billups, Denver outscored the Thunder 7-2 in the last 90 seconds of the period to go up 55-40 at halftime, their biggest lead to that point.

NOTES: The Nuggets, with the second-best home record in the NBA, have won four straight at the Pepsi Center since their only home loss of the season, Nov. 29 to Minnesota (106-100). ... The Thunder lost for just the third time in 10 games after a loss. ... Durant has 20 games of 25 or more points, tying him with Anthony for most in the NBA this season. ... Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer, has had at least 30 points in five of his last six games and 16 overall this season.

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Added: December 15, 2009


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