Thunder Vs. Nuggets, Game 3: Serge Ibaka Leads OKC To 97-94 Victory

Please visit Denver Stiffs for more on the Nuggets, and for the Thunder head to Welcome To Loud City.

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Thunder Vs. Nuggets Final Score: Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka Dominate Denver To Go Up Three Games

Entering Saturday night's Game 3, the Denver Nuggets were down two games to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Ending Saturday night, the Nuggets went down 3-0 to the Thunder in the opening round o the NBA playoffs following a 97-94 loss.

J.R. Smith had a chance to make the game-tying shot at the end of the fourth quarter, but James Harden was all over him. The crowd took it out on the refs for not calling a foul there. Smith scored 15 points off the bench and was a plus-14. He, Danilo Gallinari, Chris Andersen and Al Harrington were the only players with positive a plus/minus stat. The four starters not Gallo were all in the minus.

Tied for the team-lead in points with Smith at 15, Nene grabbed 10 rebounds and Kenyon Martin pulled down seven. Arron Afflalo returned to the court and scored nine points in the first quarter, but had just four points over the rest of the game. The team shot just 36.2 percent from the field and just 28.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Serge Ibaka dominated the Nuggets the entire game. He scored 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. The disparity in rebounding was on display again for most of the game, but the Thunder held a 49-43 advantage at the end of the game. Kevin Durant (26 points) and Russell Westbrook (23 points) combined for 49 points, 14 assists and13 rebounds.

Game 4 of this series is Monday, April 25 at the Pepsi Center. Tip-off is scheduled for around 8:30 p.m. MT.

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Thunder Vs. Nuggets Score: Oklahoma City Takes Seven-Point Lead Into Halftime

Whatever momentum the Denver Nuggets appeared to have entering the second quarter disappeared late. The Thunder took a seven-point lead into halftime with them, 56-49.

The Thunder took a 41-38 lead on a James Harden three with six minutes left in the quarter. Eventually, Ty Lawson tied the game at 43 when he sank an 18-foot jumper with five minutes to go. But the Thunder went on a 13-6 run to end the half. Serge Ibaka played a huge role for the Thunder as he already has 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Just like in Game 2, the Thunder hold a rebounding edge over the Nuggets, 26-19.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have scored 13 and 10 points, respectively, while Harden has 10 off the bench.

The Nuggets had some sloppy play during those final minutes, and have eight turnovers at halftime. Arron Afflalo has nine points, but all of them came in the first quarter. Kenyon Martin, Nene and Chris Andersen are tied for second in points with eight each. Nene leads with five rebounds.

Despite making a key shot in the first quarter, J.R. Smith (plus-6) has been on the bench, playing just six minutes.

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Thunder Vs. Nuggets Score: Arron Afflalo Helps Nuggets To Early Lead

Arron Afflalo's return to the court appears to a huge boon to the Nuggets following the first quarter of play as they hold a 31-26 lead. After missing the first two games of the series and long stretches of the regular season in March and April, Afflalo scored nine points on 3-of-5 shooting in the first quarter.

The Nuggets went on an 11-2 run to end the quarter. J.R. Smith sank a three to break the 26-26 tie with 38 second left on the clock. Kenyon Martin added a dunk a little bit later to make it a five-point lead.

Russell Westbrook, whom Afflalo has guarded for most of the quarter, leads' the Thunder with 10 points. Kevin Durant has just five points on 1-of-4 shooting, 3-of-4 from the free throw line. Serge Ibaka and Nene are battling for game-lead in rebounds, both at four right now.

For more on this game, visit Denver Stiffs and Welcome to Loud City.

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Thunder Vs. Nuggets: Denver Seeks Home Court Turnaround

The Denver Nuggets return to the Pepsi Center down 2-0 in their opening round series of the 2011 NBA Playoffs with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The story is well known: the Nuggets play a close game with the Thunder in Game 1, but lose partially on a goaltending non-call and a good number of missed free throws. Game 2 starts and the Nuggets look flat, let Oklahoma City build a 26-point lead at one point in the second quarter. After recovering in the second half to a small degree, the Nuggets still loves in a blowout, 106-89.

The Nuggets will need to keep Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook quiet if they hope to win this game. In Game 1, the two combined for 72 points and then followed that up in Game 2 with 44 combined points. The Thunder also dominated the boards in Game 2, outrebounding the Nuggets, 54-31. Seventeen of the Thunder's 54 were on the offensive glass, the Nuggets just five. Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins combined for 23 in that game.

After shooting 50.6 percent from the field in Game 1, the Nuggets couldn't make a basket for the first four minutes of Game 2 and shot in the low-20s at one point. They improved to just below 40 percent by game's end, but the team has lacked a player who is ready to step up and make those key shots. J.R. Smith's troubles and future with the club have acted up recently.

The expected return of Arron Afflalo may provide a boost to the Nuggets, but how effective will he be after recovering from a strained left hamstring?

Tip-off is scheduled for around 8:00 p.m. MT, and Altitude and ESPN (for those out of market) will televise the game.

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