Final-OT 1 2 3 4 OT Tot
Denver 23 27 28 31 12 121
Oklahoma City 22 29 30 28 4 113
1:00 PM PT2:00 PM MT3:00 PM CT4:00 PM ET20:00 GMT4:00 1:00 PM MST3:00 PM EST0:00 UAE (+1)22:0016:00 ET3:00 PM CT19:00 , August 3, 2020
ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena, Reunion, Florida

Nuggets seek better effort against surging Thunder

According to STATS
According to STATS

Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder

  1. Oklahoma City ended a seven-game losing streak to the Nuggets with a 113-101 win in February, the last meeting between the teams. The only other team to win seven straight games against the Thunder in the last decade was Golden State (seven straight from 2016 to 2017).
  2. Denver lost, 125-105, to the Heat in their return to play on Saturday, the fourth time in their last eight games they've lost by 16 or more points. They suffered just two defeats of 16+ points in their first 58 games this season.
  3. Oklahoma City's first game after the shutdown was a 110-94 victory over Utah, its 18th win in the 23 games dating back to before the league was suspended. The Thunder's 18-5 mark is their best over a 23-game span since going 19-4 from December 2015 to February 2016.
  4. The Nuggets were without three of their top six scorers in their loss to Miami, missing Jamal Murray (18.8 PPG), Will Barton (15.1 PPG) and Gary Harris (10.4 PPG). The trio, all day-to-day, have combined for 40.1 percent of the team's points per game this season.
  5. Oklahoma City was +27 with Chris Paul on the court against Utah on Saturday. The Thunder have averaged 114.5 points per 100 possessions with Paul on the court this season compared to just 99.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the bench.
  6. The Nuggets and Thunder have bucked the trend of bulk three-point shooting as 65.7 percent of Denver's shots have been twos (tied for fourth-most in the NBA) while 65.5 percent of Oklahoma City's attempts have come from inside the arc (sixth). Both teams are in the bottom five in the league in three-point attempts, with the Thunder one of four teams attempting fewer than 30 per game.
(AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)

The Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder are a part of a five-team group bunched from third to seventh place in the Western Conference standings.

With seven games remaining in the regular season in the NBA's restart near Orlando, games among the group take on magnified importance.

That will be the case Monday, when the Nuggets and Thunder meet in each team's second game since the season resumed.

Oklahoma City picked up right where it left off after the nearly five-month break, extending its winning streak to four with Saturday's 110-94 win over the Utah Jazz, another of the teams in that tight bunch.

"One game down, seven to go," Thunder point guard Chris Paul said after the game.

Oklahoma City has been one of the league's surprises throughout the season.

Led by Paul, the remade Thunder (41-24) have climbed to fifth in the West, just 1.5 games behind the Nuggets (43-23) for third.

Paul said the Thunder were in better position to compete with the best teams in the league now than they were when the league shut down in early March, especially pointing to the availability of Andre Roberson.

Roberson returned Saturday for his first regular-season action in more than two-and-a-half years.

"When you talk about that big gap we've had since March, to see how much better we've gotten as a team, to see Dre Roberson out there hooping, it's special," Paul said. "It almost gives you goosebumps, right? Just because you know how much work guys have put in. And to see it come to fruition in a game, it's special."

Things went much differently for the Nuggets, who were beaten 125-105 by Miami in their first game back.

Denver was without three starters in the loss. Will Barton, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray all missed the game with various ailments but Nuggets coach Michael Malone said his team's problems in their first game back went far deeper than injuries.

"I saw a lot of guys out there playing hard. Whether you have guys out from injury or coronavirus, that's unacceptable," Malone said. "If you turn the ball over and walk down the floor because you're feeling sorry for yourself that does not sit well with me. I like guys who play hard. I'm attracted to guys who go out there and no matter what's going on, find a way to give effort. We need to find those guys."

Now a team that looked for much of the season capable of contending with the Los Angeles teams at the top of the West is in danger of falling into the lower reaches of the playoff picture.

"We cannot think about the playoffs," Nuggets center Nikola Jokic said.

While Malone was frustrated, he also said there was no reason for Denver to panic. There's not much time to bounce back, though.

The game is the third and final regular-season meeting between the teams.

The teams have split the first two, with each team winning on their home floor. In the last meeting on Feb. 21 in Oklahoma City, the Thunder won 113-101 behind a 29-point performance by Paul.

--Field Level Media

Updated August 3, 2020