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Nikola Jokic and Bones Hyland can’t save Nuggets from 119-107 loss to Oklahoma City Thunder

The Nuggets couldn’t buy a bucket with Jeff Bezos’ credit card. What about thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander? The kid was too much money from start to finish.

The Oklahoma City goaltender finished with a game-high 29 points to lead the lowly Thunder to an oddly comfortable 119-107 victory over the Nuggets in the first of a four-game home game for Denver at the Ball Arena.

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds for the hosts, but received little to no help from his teammates. Bones Hyland and Bryn Forbes had 19 and 18 points off the bench, respectively, in what was otherwise an off night for Denver’s backcourt. The hosts shot a combined – and ungainly – 12 for 46 (26.1%) from beyond the arc.

The basketball gods continued to vex veteran guard Will Barton, who entered the night needing just one trey to tie the Nuggets’ all-time record for 3 points in a Denver uniform (768) . The 6-foot-5 swingman sniffed his first eight attempts from beyond the arc and was good on one for his first nine shots of the night, finishing with six points. Barton had been 0-5 over treys in Portland last Sunday and finished the night 3 career points from the mark.

A funky night saw the Nuggets continue a theme from last Sunday’s Portland rout – namely, with the Denver bench to the rescue.

Good thing too, because the underdog Thunder, who came in with a 19-42 record, beat a set of lethargic, hard-pressed Denver starters by a 23-12 margin to open the third quarter.

The Gilgeous-Alexander runner with 4:47 left in the frame gave OKC a 78-69 lead and required coach Michael Malone’s second timeout of the stanza. The visitors took an 86-79 cushion early in the fourth quarter thanks to a nine-point third stanza by OKC guard Isaiah Roby and the Thunder nailing seven of 11 tries from beyond the arc to open the quarter.

The first half belonged to Jokic and the Nuggets bench crowd. Led by eight points from Hyland and seven more from Austin Rivers, the Denver Reserves crushed their Oklahoma City counterparts 29-12 on the scoreboard in the first two quarters.

The fact that the hosts only took a 57-55 lead at halftime, however, tells you how hard Malone’s starters struggled to find a flow.

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