The Oklahoma City Thunder are on their way to the Western Conference Semi-Finals after defeating the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night in a game that went down to the wire by the final margin of 100-97. Oklahoma City with the victory wins their first round series four games to one.
Kevin Durant carried the Thunder to the win scoring 41 points in the contest as his team shot an anemic 36.6% (30-82) from the floor for the night. They would trail Denver at the conclusion of the first and the third but would clinch the win with a strong performance in the fourth quarter. Arron Afflalo would lead the way for the Nuggets with 15 points while Kenyon Martin recorded a double-double including 14 points in the loss.
Denver would have the advantage at the end of the first courtesy of a Raymond Felton mid-range shot with 21 seconds left in the period putting his team on top 28-25 heading into the second. With 49 seconds remaining in the second quarter Danilo Gallinari fouled Durant who would knock down a pair at the charity stripe. As the contest reached the half the score would be deadlocked at 50-50.
The two teams would trade the lead back and forth for most of the third but the Nuggets would get hot down the stretch. Raymond Felton would hit two at the line with all zeroes on the clock and Denver would hold the upper hand at the end of the period with the score 76-72. The Nuggets appeared that they were going to extend the series as Afflalo hit two free throws with 4:15 left in the contest putting his team on top 91-82.
Oklahoma City however had other thoughts and went on a 9-0 run knotting up the score at 91-91 when James Harden drained a 22 foot trey with 1:50 to play. After some more volleying of the lead between the two opponents Durant would put his team ahead to stay as he completed two shots at the line with 46 seconds on the clock. Denver could not mount another challenge and the Thunder held on for the win.
Durant had 41 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal while Russell Westbrook put up 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal. Harden came off the bench with 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block while Kendrick Perkins added 11 points, 9 rebounds and an assist.
Afflalo scored 15 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in the Nuggets loss. Martin had a double-double with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals while Raymond Felton had 13 points, 4 assists, 4 steals and 3 rebounds. Ty Lawson also added 13 points while Gallinari chipped in 11 points in the loss. Oklahoma City now wait to see whom they will match up against in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs.