Durant scores 41, Thunder top Nuggets in Game 1Apr 18, 2011 - 6:29 AM Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - Kevin Durant scored 41 points and Russell Westbrook had 31, leading the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 107-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Eric Maynor added 12 points off the bench, the only other scorer in double figures for a Thunder team that relied on its two All-Stars -- particularly down the stretch.
Durant and Westbrook scored 16 of Oklahoma City's 21 points in the fourth quarter.
"Give them credit, they stepped up and made big plays when we needed it," said Thunder head coach Scott Brooks.
Nene had 22 points and Danilo Gallinari scored 18 to lead the Nuggets, who will look to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday in Oklahoma City.
"We had our chances," said Nuggets head coach George Karl. "The guys fought, they did everything we asked them to. Durant and Westbrook make 72 points against us as hard as we're playing? I think we'll be able to make some adustments there."
Denver stormed back from an eight-point deficit with 6:13 remaining, taking the lead with a 9-0 run. Nene scored the last six points, punctuating the burst with a one-handed dunk.
Durant and Gallinari exchanged buckets after that, and the Thunder took the lead for good on a controversial play.
Westbrook's leaner in traffic from the right side rattled around rim while a couple of teammates -- including center Kendrick Perkins, who tipped it in -- got their hands inside the net, touching the ball.
The Nuggets wanted offensive goaltending called, but the basket counted for a 102-101 Thunder lead with 1:05 remaining.
There was no doubt about Westbrook's next shot, which hit the front of the rim and the backboard before dropping in to make it 104-101. Raymond Felton missed a three-pointer in traffic for the Nuggets and Durant knocked down two free throws to give Oklahoma City a 106-101 lead with 7.7 seconds left.
Thunder reserve James Harden committed an ill-advised foul, and Gallinari buried both shots to draw the Nuggets within three points with 6.2 ticks remaining.
Westbrook made 1-of-2 from the line to seal the win for the fourth-seeded Thunder, who are appearing in the playoffs for the second season in a row after snapping a four-year postseason drought last year.
"We've been in a lot of close games, and one of the things I love about our guys is they keep fighting, they keep believing in what we do," said Brooks.
The Nuggets, seeded fifth, finished five games behind Oklahoma City in the Northwest Division but still made the playoffs for the eighth straight season despite dealing Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups at the trade deadline.
They had a 33-24 lead after shooting better than 62 percent in the first quarter, but Oklahoma City shot nearly 78 percent (14-of-18) in the second to pull within 60-59 at halftime. The Thunder carried an 86-82 lead into the fourth.
The Nuggets are 18-8 since trading Anthony and Billups to the Knicks...Durant has led the NBA in scoring the last two seasons...Denver has faced the Seattle/Oklahoma City franchise in three previous playoff series (1977-78, 1987-88, 19934-94) and won two of them.
- DENVER: 103
OKLAHOMA CITY: 107
Apr 18 12:17 AM
- DENVER: 82
OKLAHOMA CITY: 86
End of 3rd
Apr 17 11:33 PM
- DENVER: 60
OKLAHOMA CITY: 59
Apr 17 10:46 PM
- DENVER: 33
OKLAHOMA CITY: 24
End of 1st
Apr 17 10:09 PM
- DENVER: 0
OKLAHOMA CITY: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Apr 17 9:43 PM
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