At this point, it's all but certain that the Denver Nuggets will meet the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the NBA playoffs -- which made last night's game between the squads doubly interesting. And while the Nugs lost 101-94, there were a number of positive signs from a Denver fan's perspective -- most having to do with aggressiveness.
One key moment involved Nenê, who hasn't exactly garnered a reputation for toughness over the years -- although maybe that's changing. While going for a rebound, he locked up with Kendrick Perkins, the former Boston Celtic, who's brought his Eastern Conference badass attitude west. And rather than backing down, Nenê took a couple of you-didn't-see-that-did-you--ref? mini-shots before getting in Kendrick's face. That's the kind of attitude the Nugs need to make a post-season dent.
Equally impressive was Ty Lawson's eagerness to step up. Every time the Nuggets seemed ready to falter, he threw himself into the Thunder's maelstrom, and thanks to a number of blitzkrieg drives, he racked up 28 points, supplemented by five assists.
Of course, there were plenty of negatives last night, as befits the final score. At the beginning of the game, the Nugs were completely unfocused, turning the ball over as if they thought they were in a flapjack-making contest and missing point-blank shots time and time again. And while there was plenty of defensive effort, the execution was lacking, with far too many instances when rotations went awry and overcommitment led to easy Thunder hoops.
But if the Nugs can get healthy (and watching Timofey Mozgov stagger off the floor with a sprained knee and ankle makes that more difficult), they have the talent to stick with OKC. And they only need to wait until Friday, when the two teams match up again, to prove it.
Look below to see highlights from last night's game.
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