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Nuggets Vs. Thunder Preview: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook And Serge Ibaka Are Back For More

The last time the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder played against each other, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka proved too much for the Nuggets to handle in a 124-118 overtime thriller. In that game on Feb. 19, Durant scored a career-high 51 points, Westbrook added 40 points and Ibaka put together a 14-point, 15-rebound, 11-block triple-double. The Thunder thrived on the strength of their terrific trio, while the Nuggets -- without Rudy Fernandez (lower back strain), Danilo Gallinari (ankle) and Nene (calf) -- shared the load in every respect. Seven players scored in double figures for Denver, headlined by Arron Afflalo's season-high 27 points and Andre Miller's 21-point, 10-assist double-double.

This time around, Gallinari, Fernandez and Nene are all back in the Nuggets' lineup, while rookie Kenneth Faried has emerged as an energetic big man who might be able to limit Ibaka's production. Denver Stiffs, SB Nation's Nuggets blog, is still a bit concerned that defense could be a problem during the Thursday night rematch:

Nuggets Nation should be feeling good about the direction of the Nuggets team, but there are still underlying issuing right now. Namely, how can the Nuggets defense, one of four teams that gives up over 100 points per game, slow down the second highest scoring offense (102.5 ppg) in the league.

Of the teams that give up 100+ points, only the Nuggets have a winning record. The other three teams that give up 100+ per game? The Sacramento Kings (14-29), Washington Wizards (9-32), and Charlotte Bobcats (6-35). That is awful company. One of the reasons the Nuggets give up so many points is because of the lack of perimeter defense.

Denver (24-19) is currently the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference playoff bracket, while OKC (32-10) holds the top overall spot.

Here is some information to help you find the game:

Game date/time: 8:00 p.m. MT, Thursday, March 15, 2012

Location: Pepsi Center

TV: Altitude

For analysis, news and info on these two teams, visit Thunder blog Welcome To Loud City and Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs. For more updates, stay with SB Nation Denver. For news and notes around the league, head over to SB Nation's NBA news hub.

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