Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Denver 17 31 29 24 101
Oklahoma City 27 21 30 35 113
5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CT0:00 , February 21, 2020
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  Attendance: 18,203

Surprising Thunder take aim at 1st-place Nuggets

According to STATS
According to STATS

Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder

  1. The Nuggets have won seven straight games against the Thunder, their longest winning streak all-time against the SuperSonics/Thunder franchise. It is tied for the Thunder's longest losing streak against any opponent since moving to Oklahoma City (also seven straight vs. Golden State from 2016-17).
  2. Denver and Oklahoma City have each played 37 games decided by single digits, most in the NBA. The Nuggets are 26-11 in those games, while the Thunder are 21-16.
  3. The Nuggets lead the NBA with 16 wins after trailing at halftime this season. Denver had 14 such wins all of last season, and the most in franchise history is 20 in 2009-10.
  4. Oklahoma City has made at least 15 free throws in 21 straight games, the longest streak by any team this season. The Thunder average 5.0 more free throws made per game than their opponents (19.8-14.8), the best differential in the NBA.
  5. In five games since returning from injury, Jamal Murray has averaged 29.0 points per game, the best by a Nuggets player over a five-game span since Carmelo Anthony in February 2011 (30.6).
  6. After averaging 10.8 points per game with six 20-point games as a rookie, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has improved to 19.5 points per game and 30 games with 20+ points this season.
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Oklahoma City Thunder look to continue their rise in the Northwest Division when they host the first-place Denver Nuggets on Friday night.

The Nuggets took a five-game lead over the Thunder into the All-Star break, a gap that was one game wider before Denver lost 120-116 to the Los Angeles Lakers while Oklahoma City was winning 123-118 at New Orleans in their respective final games before the time off.

Including Friday's showdown, the Nuggets and Thunder will meet three times over the final 27 games of the season, including twice at Oklahoma City.

Denver got the jump on the season-series tiebreaker with a 110-102 home win over the Thunder in December. Nikola Jokic's 28-point, 14-rebound, 12-assist triple-double trumped Steven Adams' 18-point, 14-rebound double-double in their big-man head-to-head.

The triple-double was Jokic's fourth of 11 this season. He went into the All-Star break with the third-most triple-doubles in the league, trailing only co-leaders LeBron James and Luka Doncic, each of whom had 12.

The nine days off couldn't have come at a worse time for Jokic, who played brilliantly in January, averaging 23.4 points and 10.3 rebounds, and has been even better in February, during which he's put up 27.0 points and 12.0 rebounds in six games.

The Nuggets used the break to get healthier. Mason Plumlee, who missed the last 12 games with an ankle injury, and Michael Porter Jr., who sat six in a row with an ankle ailment, have been cleared to return to face the Thunder.

Porter has ranked among the most productive rookies in the league since Jan. 15, averaging 14.9 points and 9.6 rebounds.

"The break was good for me," he told reporters at practice Wednesday. "Injuries happen. I'm just happy that it wasn't more serious. I'm ready to play again. I'm excited."

The Thunder were just 11-14 after they lost at Denver in December. They have since gone 22-8, getting balanced production from a lineup that was significantly impacted by offseason deals that netted Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari.

Oklahoma City went into the break having won 10 of 13, with Dennis Schroder (22.4), Paul (20.8), Gallinari (20.4) and Gilgeous-Alexander (18.1) all averaging at least 18 points over that stretch.

Schroder admitted over the break that life after Russell Westbrook, dealt to Houston in a draft pick-laden deal that netted Paul, has been an adjustment.

"I mean, Russell's my guy," he admitted to reporters this week. "But Russell is Russell Westbrook. He's earned everything he's done in the NBA. He's a hell of a player.

"With Chris Paul (running the offense), I think it's just a different vibe we have in this locker room, and it works. This year we're on the same page. Shai, Chris, everybody's sacrificing."

The cohesion surely has helped the Thunder on the road, where they have won eight straight.

However, they've lost six of their last 10 at home, including the last two to Boston and San Antonio.

The Nuggets have won two straight on the road.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 21, 2020