Quantcast 2011 NBA Western Conference Playoffs: Round One - Denver vs Oklahoma City

 

2011 NBA Playoff Preview – Western Conference First Round

Western Conference First Round Game 1  - Oklahoma City 107, Denver 103 – Thunder lead series, 1-0

 

Two of the NBA's most free-flowing offensive teams traded haymakers for 48 minutes on Sunday night at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. However, the most important punch landed in the game was a punch that should have been ruled illegal.

Back-to-back NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant poured in 43 points as the Oklahoma City Thunder survived a tough contest from the Denver Nuggets. However, all that most people will remember from this wildly entertaining contest is that the night's most decisive basket was tainted.

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Yes, give the NBA's scoring king his due. Durant’s scoring display was something to behold - the All-Star was able to score in so many different ways. Whether it was a mid-range jumper, driving layup, three-point attempt, or free-throw shooting prowess, Durant made a substantial offensive impact and affirmed his status as one of the hardest defensive assignments in the league. Durant brought the Thunder to the brink of victory, and his teammate and fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook finished the Nuggets off. Westbrook’s jumper with 22 seconds left gave Oklahoma City a three-point cushion it managed to preserve down the stretch. Bad possessions, especially one that concluded with a bad hoist from guard Raymond Felton with roughly 11 seconds left, prevented the fifth seed from digging out the road victory it will need at some point in this series. 

Now, however, one must focus on the game's big controversy, an even more blatant officiating error than the foul and non-foul calls which marred the end of the night's earlier game between the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.

 

 

The Nuggets will look back at a call that didn’t go their way. Leading by one point with just over a minute left, the Nuggets watched as a Westbrook shot missed off the rim. Before the ball left the cylinder, Thunder big man Kendrick Perkins tipped the ball into the basket. The Denver players and sideline rightly went ballistic, calling for an offensive goaltending verdict that would never come. It's true that missed opportunities on the offensive end down the stretch sealed Denver’s fate, but a horrible call plainly gifted the Thunder with two points.

The Nuggets had a tremendous opportunity to steal Game 1 with an inspired performance. Nene was supremely efficient, scoring 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting despite an injury suffered in the second half. Oklahoma City simply had the two best players on the floor down the stretch and that was enough on Sunday night. If Game 1 is any indication, this series is destined for a Game 7.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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