Oklahoma City (4-6) were ten-point favorites at Sacramento but lost for the third straight time on Tuesday. They took a 25-10 lead through the opening quarter, but were outscored in the second by 16 points. Down the stretch, the Thunder were outplayed by the Kings and Sacramento pulled away late to win. Shooting was a particular sore spot for the Thunder, with Carmelo Anthony hitting just 4 of his 17 shots, Paul George just 4 of his 16 and Russell Westbrook 7 of his 21 for a combined shooting percentage of 27.7%. Steven Adams played well for Oklahoma City scoring 14 points while grabbing 6 rebounds and making 5 steals.
The Nuggets (6-5) looked strong against Brooklyn on Tuesday after being blown out in their previous game by Golden State. The final difference of eight points against the Nets was deceiving as the Nuggets led by 20 points starting the fourth quarter. Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets in scoring with 41 points and added 12 rebounds, 5 assists and a pair of blocked shots. Jokic is quickly becoming one of the league’s best big men.
Three keys to the game
Denver’s big men – The Nuggets will have superior size and strength in the paint against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Paul Millsap, Wilson Chandler and Jokic are bigger forces underneath compared to the Thunder’s frontcourt of George, Anthony and Adams. Millsap and Jokic will look to exploit those mismatches down low.
Home court – Playing in Denver at 5,000 feet above sea level is not an easy thing to do. Even though the Nuggets do not always win on their home court, the advantage of practicing and playing at such an altitude is notable.
Thunder stars could awaken – The Oklahoma City roster has three of the best players in the league in Westbrook, George and Anthony and they will have something to prove after shooting a combined 15 for 54 against the Kings. Expect at least one of these three to bounce bag with a big showing in this game.
Matchup to watch
Paul Millsap vs Carmelo Anthony – Both are veterans, All-Stars and proven players on the offensive end. However, Anthony is a much poorer defender than Millsap. The Nuggets power forward could take advantage of that and go higher than his average of 15.4 points a game.
Thunder projected starting lineup
PG – Russell Westbrook | SG – Andre Roberson | SF – Paul George | PF – Carmelo Anthony | C – Steven Adams
Nuggets projected starting lineup
PG – Jamal Murray | SG – Gary Harris | SF – Wilson Chandler| PF – Paul Millsap | C – Nikola Jokic
Serbian center Jokic has quickly become one of the NBA’s most versatile big men. Following his exploits against Brooklyn, Jokic is now averaging 17.9 points, 11.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game, leading the Nuggets in each of the three categories.
Oklahoma City are one-point road favorites and the game has an over/under point total of 214. Both teams will look to speed up the flow of the game, which means the scoring will be high. The over has solid value in this game.
Oklahoma City have something to prove following their embarrassing loss to the Kings. The Thunder will pull away late and win 115-105.
The game will be nationally televised on TNT. Tip-off is at 10:30 pm ET at the Pepsi Center.
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