Nuggets sneak past Thunder to avoid eliminationApr 26, 2011 - 7:14 AM Denver, CO (Sports Network) - Ty Lawson scored 27 points and hit two big free throws in the closing seconds, as the Denver Nuggets avoided a sweep by winning Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, 104-101.
Danilo Gallinari recorded all 18 of his points in the second half for the Nuggets, who kept their season alive by forcing 15 turnovers while only committing eight themselves.
Kevin Durant netted 31 points and Russell Westbrook had 30, but the latter missed a trio of three-pointers in the final minute, including one at the buzzer to end the Thunder's attempt at a sweep.
"It was a physical basketball game," Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win, but didn't make enough plays down the stretch. They did."
Game 5 is set for Wednesday back in Oklahoma City, where the Nuggets lost the first two games of the series by a combined 21 points.
They dropped Game 3 to the Northwest Division champions, 97-94, but broke open a two-point lead late in the fourth on Monday by scoring eight straight points, with a free throw from Nene resulting in a 97-87 advantage with 2:44 remaining.
The Thunder had one last run in them to make it close, scoring nine of the next 10 points to pull within two on Durant's three-pointer with 69 seconds on the clock.
Raymond Felton was short on a mid-range jumper, and Westbrook began his string of deep misses at the other end. Westbrook did, however, get in the lane for two between Felton's 3-for-4 effort at the foul line, but airballed another three-ball with 7.9 seconds showing.
Lawson made it a five-point game with two makes from the stripe, though Durant forced the Nuggets to make more free throws when he hit a three-pointer with 4.1 ticks left.
Felton kept it a one-possession game by missing the first free throw and making the second. Westbrook took the ensuing inbounds pass up the court, and had his runner from the top of the key disrupted by Kenyon Martin to effectively end the contest.
"We only shot 38 percent and still won the game," Nuggets head coach George Karl said. "That's a positive."
Eric Maynor drained a miraculous shot about two feet beyond Oklahoma City's defensive three-point line at the end of the first quarter, but the attempt came a split second after the buzzer had sounded.
That left the Nuggets with a 26-20 lead after 12 minutes, and the teams were deadlocked at 45-all at halftime.
An evenly-matched third ended with Denver holding a tenuous 71-69 cushion.
Serge Ibaka totaled 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder, who were outscored at the free throw line, 31-24...J.R. Smith scored 15 points for the Nuggets, who got 13 points and nine rebounds from Martin and 10 and nine from Nene.
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 101
Apr 26 1:29 AM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 69
End of 3rd
Apr 26 12:40 AM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 45
Apr 25 11:53 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 20
End of 1st
Apr 25 11:14 PM
- OKLAHOMA CITY: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Apr 25 10:45 PM
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