NORMAN — OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook knows the Oklahoma City Thunder are living on the edge. In several games this season, they have allowed themselves to get down by huge deficits and then have to fought their way back into games.
It happened again Monday with the Denver Nuggets in town. Trailing by 14 points, the Thunder clawed their way to a 115-113 victory over the Nuggets at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“Just toughness,” Westbrook said. “We are a tough group of guys. We take on the challenge especially when the game gets tight and gets close. We want to win games.”
However, the Thunder had to hold on in the final seconds to get the job done.
With 1:41 left, Denver and Oklahoma City sat tied at 105-105. Westbrook missed two shots, but forward Serge Ibaka grabbed the rebound of the second and slung the ball out to forward Kevin Durant at the top of the key. He calmly drained a 3-pointer to put the Thunder (7-3) up by three before doing a little shimmy.
“I love it man,” Westbrook said of Durant’s animated dance. “I’m full of animation. I’m glad he finally added some animation to his game too, so it’s good.”
Denver (4-6) cut the gap to 108-106 when forward Kenneth Faried made one of two free throws with 39 seconds left.
Westbrook then dribbled past Denver guard Randy Foye and center J.J. Hickson for an uncontested layup to put the Thunder up by four with 22 seconds to go.
Nuggets guard Ty Lawson answered with a step-back jumper. With 14 seconds remaining, Oklahoma City guard Reggie Jackson was fouled and knocked down two free throws.
On the ensuing Nuggets possession, Ibaka was called for goaltending on a Lawson layup with 7.8 seconds left, slicing Oklahoma City’s lead to two.
Westbrook was fouled on the inbounds pass and made one of two free throws.