Jan 19, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) reacts after a play in the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
(The Sports Xchange) – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each had a double-double, while Enes Kanter scored a season-high 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds, as the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 110-104.
“Enes did a really good job tonight,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said of the center. “He was really active on the glass, he got a lot of offensive rebounds, he kept possessions alive, he scored, he did a lot of really good things.”
Westbrook finished with 27 points and 12 assists but fell short of his third straight triple-double. The guard has five this season and 24 in his career.
“They just wanted it more than us,” Nuggets guard Will Barton said. “They beat us on the offensive glass and were really being aggressive.”
Durant had 30 points and 12 rebounds to help Oklahoma City win their fifth straight. The Thunder won for the 20th time in 24 games despite shooting just 21 percent from three-point range.
Danilo Gallinari led Denver (16-26) with 27 points and Kenneth Faried had 17 and 15 rebounds but could not overcome Kanter’s big night.
“That guy gets 25 and eight (rebounds), four offensive rebounds and some key plays and he does it on 10 of 14 shooting,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
“You know that Durant and Westbrook are going to get theirs, but when you allow a third scorer to get in the game, it makes it nearly impossible to beat that team.”
Durant and Westbrook had double-doubles before the end of the third quarter. The Thunder (31-12) trailed by five midway through the period but led 84-79 entering the fourth.
The Thunder tried to pull away early in the fourth but Denver got within three and had a chance to cut the deficit to one but Kanter hit a fast-break dunk and a layup to make it 90-83.
Denver did close within three on two free throws by Will Barton but a free throw by Kanter, a three-point play from Durant and a layup by Kanter made it 96-97 with 5:08 left.
Kanter had two of his four offensive rebounds in the fourth.
“My job is just going out there and helping my team mates, get them open shots and fight for offensive rebounds,” he said.
The Nuggets cut the lead to five but a three-pointer by Durant and a driving dunk from Westbrook made it 104-95 with 1:58 left.
Denver had a chance to make it a one-possession game in the final minute but Westbrook stole a pass underneath and Kanter hit two free throws to stretch the lead to six.
“We made some plays, gave up 2-on-1s, stuff we can control, but for the most part we did a great job defensively,” Durant said. “We had 30 assists, we rebounded the ball well.”
Durant had 16 points and seven rebounds in the first half.
Before the game, the Nuggets announced they had signed general manager Tim Connelly and assistant GM Arturas Karnisovas to multi-year contract extensions.
Connelly, who also serves as the team’s executive vice president for basketball operations, said the team “has turned a corner” after a disappointing two years.
“There’s a bright light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)