When: 8:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Pepsi Center
TV/Radio: TNT; 92.5 FM
Spotlight on Paul George: The Thunder’s biggest offseason acquisition was considered the biggest all-star snub until earlier this week, when DeMarcus Cousins’ Achilles injury opened up a spot for George. He is one of the best two-way players in the NBA, leading the league in steals (2.1 per game) while also averaging 21.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. But Denver has done a nice job limiting George so far this season, as he scored 13 points (zero in the fourth quarter) in the Nuggets’ November home win and eight points on 3-of-13 shooting in Denver’s 95-94 mid-December loss in Oklahoma City.
Thunder: It has won eight of its last 10 games to rise to fifth in the Western Conference playoff standings entering Wednesday, but fell at Washington Tuesday 102-96. This is the last game of Oklahoma City’s four-game road trip…The Thunder entered Wednesday ranked fifth in the NBA in defensive rating (103.2 point allowed per 100 possessions) and in the top 10 in the league in scoring defense (fourth, 102 points allowed per game), field-goal percentage defense (10th, 45.5) and 3-point field-goal percentage defense (10th, 37.5). But Oklahoma City’s prowess on that end of the floor recently took a major hit, when perimeter stopper Andre Roberson sustained a ruptured patellar tendon that required season-ending surgery. … Reigning MVP Russell Westbrook has thrust himself back into the conversation for this season’s award, averaging 28.3 points (second in the NBA), 8.8 rebounds, 9.7 assists (second in the NBA) and 2.2 steals over his past 10 games.
Nuggets: They are coming off two hearbreaking losses to Boston and San Antonio, a pair of games in which Denver had a chance to win in the final seconds but Will Barton misfired on potential game-winning 3-pointers. … Denver’s frontcourt is depleted, with Mason Plumlee expected to be out for “a little while” with a calf strain sustained during Monday’s loss to Barton. Veteran Darrell Arthur got his first start of the season in place of Plumlee at San Antonio, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. … Versatile forward Wilson Chandler, who left Saturday’s win over New York with a migraine, was available to play Tuesday at the Spurs but did not get in the game. … Gary Harris leads Denver with 17.3 points per game and entered Wednesday ranked sixth in the NBA in steals (1.9 per game).