A few nights ago as his team prepared to play the team with the best record in basketball, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl was asked if he thought the Oklahoma City Thunder’s transition from James Harden to Kevin Martin was complete.
Yes, yes he did, Karl said.
And then the game happened. At halftime, the Nuggets had a six-point lead — well, that is if they only had to outscore Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
“They wanted to kick our butts,” Karl would say after the 20-point beat down, “and they did.”
Two nights later the most efficient offensive machine in basketball directed the buzz saw at the improving Dallas Mavericks. The Thunder loosened their grip on the throttle Saturday night after a couple of 14-point leads and would need overtime to pick up a 32nd win in 40 games this season.
Give full credit to the Mavs, who put an OT scare into OKC for the second time in less than a month. But the Thunder, getting 52 points from Durant on a night he would shoot just 13-for-31 from the floor, and 31 points from Westbrook, answered every Dallas rally for their sixth consecutive win and 11th in 13 games.