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The Nuggets played without point guard Chauncey Billups (sprained ankle) and forward Kenyon Martin (flu). Karl started a defensive lineup and hoped that would be enough, stating Denver "stole one" their last visit to the Ford Center a month ago.

"Scotty (Brooks) has them playing hard," Karl said. "They're gaining confidence. And No. 3, the most important thing is their young kids are improving. When you watch film, you can see Durant, (Jeff) Green, and (Russell) Westbrook on a weekly to monthly basis are getting better.


Smith was available after sitting out 10 consecutive games. Hampered by a cyst on his knee, Smith had not played since Jan. 10 in an overtime win against the Chicago Bulls.

"At times, we can get a little crazy," Brooks said. "He steadies the ship. He understands his job sometimes is to tell guys, 'Slow down. We can get this thing going in the right direction, that we just need to take good shots and play good defense.'"

Brooks said a 25-day layoff doesn't affect Smith as much as some players.

"For some guys there's some rust, but Joe has been around," Brooks said. "He understands his body, understands his game. Conditioning is a factor, but he'll be fine."


Westbrook injured his right wrist in the first quarter but returned with the wrist taped. ... Former Thunder center Johan Petro got some playing time with Martin in street clothes. Petro was traded to Denver for Chucky Atkins a month ago. ... The first 20 fans outside the Ford Center received free Thunder rally monkeys. ... In celebration of Black History Month, Langston's marching band performed at halftime. ... Durant (11) leads the team in double-doubles. Jeff Green and Nick Collison have seven each...

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: February 7, 2009


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