OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Shai Gilgeous-Alexander recorded his second career triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Denver Nuggets 108-94 on Wednesday night.
Gilgeous-Alexander netted a Thunder player’s first triple-double at home since Russell Westbrook in the 2018-19 season.
Gilgeous-Alexander said his teammates told him he was getting closer to the triple-double. He landed it on a rebound with about a minute to go.
“I can’t keep up with the stats when I’m playing,” he said. “I’m just trying to win and try to play the best basketball every possession on both sides of the court and whatever happens, happens.”
Darius Bazley had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Lu Dort had 15 points and rookie Jeremiah Robinson-Earl added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder. Oklahoma City earned their biggest margin of victory this season and improved to 5-3 from a 73-point loss to Memphis on December 2.
“It would have been easy to get into a shell, come up with excuses – we’re a young team, blah, blah, blah,” said rookie Josh Giddey. “But credit to our guys. After that Memphis game, we wanted to come out and prove that this is not the team we are. We don’t want that to be remembered. I think since then we’ve come out with an advantage, a chip on our shoulders to prove to the teams that when you walk into our building, or when we come towards you, it won’t be an easy game.
Nikola Jokic had 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists for the Nuggets. The reigning league MVP entered the game averaging 26.3 points, 13.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists.
Denver coach Michael Malone said he didn’t like the way the starters played, so he sat them all down for the entire fourth quarter.
“As a coach, what really matters to me is when you play and when you compete and when you play the right way,” said Malone. “We didn’t have that from our starting group.
Denver had claimed three of four wins, but hadn’t played since December 17. The Nuggets’ game against the Brooklyn Nets scheduled for December 19 was postponed because the Nets did not have enough players available due to health and safety protocols and injuries. .
Gilgeous-Alexander had nine points and two assists in the final four minutes of the first half to help the Thunder take a 60-52 lead. He had 19 points at the break. Jokic and Aaron Gordon each scored 10 points for the Nuggets.
The Thunder extended their lead to 16 points over a 3-point Dort with just under five minutes left in the third quarter. A 3-point Giddey extended Oklahoma City’s lead to 21. The Thunder were leading 88-66 by the end of the period.
Denver reduced its deficit in the fourth on reserves, but never came close to eight points in the final period.
Malone respected the effort of the reserves, led by the 12 points of Austin Rivers.
“I really applaud the effort from our bench,” he said. “These guys went over there and competed and played hard.”
Nuggets: Rookie goalie Bones Hyland limped off the field in the second quarter and came back in the third. He finished with five points on a 2-for-7 shot. He had just scored a career-high 24 points against Atlanta. … Forward JaMychal Green played after missing the previous three games with an ankle injury. He had three points and seven rebounds.
Thunder: Mike Muscala, one of Oklahoma City’s most stable players this season, has rested. … Held the Nuggets 27% on shots in the first quarter to take a 28-18 lead. … Gilgeous-Alexander scored 11 points in the second quarter. … Giddey finished with 14 points.
Gilgeous-Alexander, on the recent Oklahoma City game: “I’m just trying to get going. See each day as an opportunity to improve yourself and learn from the previous days. We try to do this every day, whether it’s watching a movie, in training, on the road or playing a game, and we know that at the end of the day, if we do that, we’ll get better. .
In his last 10 games, Gilgeous-Alexander has averaged 25 points and 6.2 assists per game. He didn’t play in the loss to Memphis.
In three games since his transition to a reserve role, Bazley has averaged 12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks while shooting 54% from the field.
Nuggets: Host the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.
Thunder: Visit the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.
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