John Hollinger of ESPN.com: “For all those shortcomings, however, Denver can walk away feeling good in a lot of other ways. Durant and Westbrook combined for 72 points, the Nuggets missed 12 foul shots and shot 4-of-16 on 3s, and defensive ace Arron Afflalo — who might prove even more useful against Westbrook than against Durant — didn’t play; despite that, Denver lost by four on the road. That’s a pretty respectable result.”
Rob Mahoney for SI: “As good as Durant and Russell Westbrook were in this game (and they were brilliant), Oklahoma City’s victory relied heavily on contributions both obvious and subtle from three of the Thunder’s lesser-known players. Nick Collison finished with just two points and a single rebound, but he registered the game’s highest plus-minus rating and was a crucial part of three separate Thunder runs. His defense, screen-setting, and passing continue to be important commodities for Oklahoma City, and yet his impact will forever be eclipsed by the more obvious contributions of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.”
From Elias: “Kevin Durant scored 41 points and Russell Westbrook added 31 in the Thunder’s four-point win over the Nuggets. Oklahoma City became the third team in NBA history to have one player score more than 40 points and another player chip in more than 30 in its playoff opener. The others teams to begin the playoffs in that fashion were the Philadelphia Warriors in 1962 (43 points for Paul Arizin and 32 for Wilt Chamberlain vs. Syracuse) and the Celtics in 1973 (54 points for John Havlicek and 34 for Jo Jo White vs. Atlanta).”
Darnell Mayberry: “Can’t say that the Thunder’s fourth-quarter offense was all that impressive in this one. And after 82 games, it shouldn’t have come as a shock. Go back and watch this one over and compare the Thunder’s offense to the Nuggets. When Denver made its 9-0 run, there was cutting, screening and ball movement. At the other end, the Thunder was standing around and trying to force it to one of their go-to guys. That little stretch almost cost the Thunder this game.”
Berry Tramel on Denver’s big mismatch: “But on a couple of Durant’s four straight shots in the third quarter, the Nuggets had Raymond Felton guarding Durant. Yep. I am not making this up. The Nuggets’ 6-foot-1 point guard. Later, when Denver coach George Karl commiserated about a defeat that could have gone the Nuggets’ way, he talked about making adjustments. Talked about stiffening up on Durant and Russell Westbrook, too, and making this a seven-game series.”
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports: “Perkins had yet to see the replay and wasn’t willing to speculate that the officials had missed the call. He does think the Nuggets already received a break of their own when Westbrook was called for basket interference midway through the second quarter. “I saw it come off the rim and got a hand on it,” Perkins said. “They didn’t call it, so it must not have [happened]. Just go on and play. I didn’t question it.” The controversial finish only added to the intrigue of a series that’s seemingly becoming more testy between the teams by the day. Before Sunday’s game, Karl said he thinks his Nuggets will beat the Thunder.”
Congrats to Bryan who won the Game 1 contest. We’ll probably be doing more coming soon.