Nuggets guard Smith celebrates a three-point shot in their NBA basketball game against the Timberwolves in Denver

NBA Playoffs: Nuggets hold the line

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It seems easy, right? You win three games, you’ve proven you’re the better team, you’ve shown you can win on their floor, you’ve totally and completely demoralized them and all you have to do is do it once more and the series is through. But it never is, as the Oklahoma City Thunder found out Monday night as the Nuggets held the line, particularly the 3-point line, and got a win to make the series 3-1 headed back to OKC.

Sure, the Thunder are likely to finish the thing off in Game 5. But like the Spurs trying to fend off the Grizzlies, one win and the series is 3-2, and then the series comes back to Denver with a chance to knot it up.

Then again, once more the Thunder had a chance to close out the game, and this time couldn’t overcome their own mistakes. Russell Westbrook wanted to win this game. He was desperate to win this game. So much so that he deliberately ignored his teammates down the stretch and forced the shot, resulting in terrible decisions and a game  where the Nuggets faced the razor blade and managed not to get cut.

The big difference for the Nuggets? 9-19, 47% from 3-point range. Ty Lawson was huge with 27 points, constantly working to get to the rim. Danilo Gallinari finally stepped up, hitting 3-4 from deep and getting 18 points on 13 shots. When Gallinari is engaged, the Nuggets are an entirely different team. Meanwhile, the Thunder never got anyone outside of the Big 2 involved. The result is they have to try to close out the Nuggets in five, wasting precious time they could be getting healthy. The hardest thing for a young team to learn is how close out a team. The Thunder still haven’t figure that out.

Greg Smith fails physical, will not join Pelicans

Greg Smith
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With both starter Omer Asik and backup Alexis Ajinca out injured for the rest of the preseason (and maybe a little longer), the Pelicans are looking for a center to put next to Anthony Davis for a stretch. That could include a handful of regular season games.

Greg Smith was going to be that man, but the 24-year-old failed his physical, reports the Times-Picayune.

The New Orleans Pelicans were set to sign power forward Greg Smith, but sources said Friday night that he failed his physical examination and will not be joining the team.

And so the search goes on.

The problem is, there are not quality big men still out there on the market, there is a limited supply and just about anyone worth having is spoken for. A few with non-guaranteed contracts may be waived as we get closer to the end of training camps, but that is likely a couple of weeks away.

With both Asik and Ajinca expected back in a few weeks, it’s not worth making a trade or some big move to bring in a center, the Pelicans are just going to have to live with what is out there.

Kevin Durant with huge dunk on visiting Fenerbahce Ulker

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Welcome to America, Fenerbahce Ulker.

The Turkish powerhouse was in America playing some exhibition games this preseason, and they got a first-hand reminder that Kevin Durant is back. KD had 13 points in the Thunder’s easy 111-81 win.

Not to be outdone, Russell Westbrook got in on the act.