NBA Preview: Thunder at Nuggets

Thunder at Nuggets

The Oklahoma City Thunder had an eight-game losing streak come to an end with a 102-96 loss at the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, falling to 1-1 since losing defensive ace Andre Roberson for the remainder of the season. The Thunder will try to get back in the win column when the road trip skips west with a visit to the Denver Nuggets.

Oklahoma City was solid on the defensive end despite being without Roberson on Tuesday but were sloppy on the other end while committing a season-high 21 turnovers. “You know it was going to be a tough battle on the road. The difference in the game for us was I just didn’t think we executed great coming down the stretch. We had some opportunities,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan told reporters. “With the execution piece of it the last three or four minutes, I wish we would have gotten better shots, taken care of the ball a little bit better, did a better job of moving the ball and not turning it over.” The Nuggets are coming off back-to-back losses to two of the best teams in the NBA — the Boston Celtics and the San Antonio Spurs — by a total of three points. “Back-to-back tough losses,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters after falling 106-104 in San Antonio on Tuesday. “Those are always tough to swallow. But more importantly, big picture, I loved the fight that we had tonight. … If we continue to play like this, and compete and find ways to stay in games, we’re going to be a really good basketball team.”

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, FS Oklahoma

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ABOUT THE THUNDER (30-21):¬†Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook managed just 13 points and seven turnovers on Tuesday and watched fellow All-Star Paul George go scoreless in the fourth quarter. “That’s my bad. I take ownership in that, and take ownership in our loss tonight,” Westbrook told reporters. “I gotta do a better job of making sure I’m making the game easy for Paul and finding him and getting him a basket.” George finished with a team-high 28 points despite the slow final period and is averaging 27.8 points over the last six contests.

ABOUT THE NUGGETS (26-25):¬†Shooting guard Will Barton got the call to take the final shot at the end of each of the last two games and missed 3-pointers in both, but he is using the disappointment as a learning experience. “It’s just building me up,” Barton told the Denver Post. “Moments like this, you’ve got to go through them to grow up. I’m happy I can even be in the NBA going through these types of things — things I dreamed of. I love it. I’ll be back.” Barton logged at least 39 minutes in each of the last four games and is sharing the heavy load with backcourt mates Jamal Murray and Gary Harris as Denver fights to stay above .500 during a four-game stretch that will see them face Boston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Golden State in consecutive games.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Thunder C Steven Adams recorded a double-double in seven of the last nine games.

2. Nuggets C Mason Plumlee (calf) sat out Tuesday and is not expected to play on Thursday.

3. The teams split the first two meetings this season, with Denver earning a 102-94 home win on Nov. 9.

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