Denver had an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter and all looked good on the edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Nuggets’ drive to knock-off league-best Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant (37 points, seven boards and eight assists on 7-of-20 shooting) and Russell Westbrook (36 points, 10-of-26 shooting) were being contained via constant harassment, as much as the superstar tandem can be anyway. The Nugs looked like they were about to make amends after a sloppy loss in OKC last week. These two always make for great games and Denver’s eventual 121-118 win in OT was one of the very best, with two endings that were crazy. Westbrook turned the entire Pepsi Center against him when he goaltended the half-court shot of Denver’s mascot, Rocky. The mascot shoots it every game for a chance for fans to win burritos, but about two feet before it met the rim Russ plucked it out of the air and fans were furious as if someone played the replay of last week’s epic secondary fail by the Broncos. And then he did it again. The boos were merciless every time Russ took the ball the rest of the game — including his three-pointer to tie the game with 22.9 seconds left in the fourth. Russ did his best good Russ/bad Russ to perfection by trolling the fans while sending the game to OT. Kenneth Faried‘s layup (16 points, 10 boards) in OT clinched the Denver win, and Westbrook had the ball stripped as he went up and didn’t get a call (one wasn’t needed there). However, both coaches have legit beef with the officials over offensive foul calls on screens. … Corey Brewer (26 points in 34 minutes off the bench) continues to show he’s playing as comfortably as he ever has since leaving Florida. He put Denver up two in the second quarter with a beautiful loop drive where he took the ball at the arc’s corner, left Durant frozen on a crossover and change of direction at the elbow, and finished at the rim while getting popped on the chin by Serge Ibaka (16 points). He’s had those spurts his whole career but now we’re seeing him combine plays like that into whole stretches for the first time. Denver’s next hoop came when Brewer caught a pass while cutting along the free throw line and, without a second thought, got a 15-foot hook shot to go over Kendrick Perkins. Brewer saved his best for halfway through the last quarter. Dude hit three triples in a couple minutes, two with an added degree of difficulty being on the fast break, to get the Nugs an 11-point lead. We don’t think this is oversimplification: Brewer is playing now like Denver always hoped J.R. Smith would. … A corner three by Darren Collison (11 points) took the air out of Orlando in the Mavericks’ 111-105 win on the road. The Magic had cut the lead to two when Collison nailed a triple with less than a minute remaining. Rookie Jae Crowder‘s development has been a nice sign to watch for the Mavs, though it won’t really factor into the macro storyline of this season. Still, his tip-in after he flew in from the left wing untouched (bad blocking out, Magic) halfway through the fourth was nice. The Magic play-by-play team even called it a Faried-type rebound, a high compliment. … Dirk Nowitzki is still feeling his way through games, getting 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, but wasn’t The Guy down the stretch as he would have been in any other Dallas season. Rick Carlisle said he might take until February to get back to full strength. … Hit the jump to hear about how a deal in Seattle is very close. …
Smack / Jan 21, 2013 / 2:00 am
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