Kevin Durant had 40 points and Russell Westbrook added 26 as the Oklahoma City Thunder exploded for a 124-112 win over the Denver Nuggets Monday.

There’s something about the start of games: the Nuggets aren’t very good at them, or at least they haven’t been during their latest six-game losing streak. The Nuggets once again got down big in the first quarter, 38-18, and Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic we’re the only ones showing signs of life early on.

Nurkic had 16 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter, while Faried finished the night with 22 points and ten rebounds.

“He just played with a lot of heart. He went after everything. He attacked the basket ferociously at times,” said head coach Brian Shaw of Faried. “Some rebounds he didn’t get, but he went after them. When we have effort like that, and we still come up short, I can live with that.”

Then, in the second quarter, a pretty entertaining game broke out. The Nuggets got things going – Wilson Chandler was aggressive getting into the lane, and Ty Lawson, who’s been struggling from behind the arc all season (he’s shooting a career-low 34.3 percent), finally heated up from deep. He it both his threes in the first half and wound up 5-7 for the game.

Unfortunately, just as the Nuggets were closing the gap, Kevin Durant put his foot down.

“I have to take my hat off to those guys over there in the other locker room, because they’re pretty damn good,” said Shaw. “What do you do? A guy pulls up and he’s taking a 20, 25-foot jump shot with a hand up. Another other time that’s what you want. But he’s good. There’s a reason why he’s been MVP and perennial all-star.”

Durant finished 13-19 from the field and 7-12 from three-point land, including three straight late in the second right as the Nugget closed the gap to 8.

He didn’t slow down much in the third, and he got some help from Westbrook and power forward Mitch McGary, who had 17 points and ten rebounds on the night. After three, the Nuggets were still trailed 106-92.

Try as the Nuggets might, they couldn’t quite close the gap in the fourth, although a lineup of Chandler, Nurkic, Lawson, Faried, and Randy Foye played well. Chandler ended up with a team-high 23 points and Lawson finished with 22. Unfortunately Arron Afflalo struggled in this one, managing just six points in just over 28 minutes.

The Nuggets have one more shot at a win before the all-star break. They’ll take on the Los Angeles Laker tomorrow night in the Staples Center. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. MT.

Zach Marburger is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @BurchBurger.

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