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Nuggets beat Thunder for first 13-game win streak

Wednesday - 3/20/2013, 5:00am  ET

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) blocks a shot by Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (34) in front of Thunder forward Nick Collison (4) and Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried (35) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

JEFF LATZKE
AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Andre Miller isn't known for voicing his opinion. So when the veteran point guard started talking, the Denver Nuggets listened.

A big performance on his 37th birthday started with an inspirational speech and finished with Miller's play doing all the talking for him.

Miller scored 13 of his season-best 20 points in the fourth quarter, and the Nuggets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 114-104 Tuesday night for their first 13-game winning streak since joining the NBA.

"He's a coach and a teacher and a veteran, and he does it every day in a very classy way, a very quiet way," coach George Karl said. "And then he can do what he did tonight, where he can take the most talented team maybe in the NBA and be the best player on the court for the last 6 minutes of the game."

Denver took control just after halftime, building a 13-point lead and then holding off the Thunder as they got back within 102-97 after Russell Westbrook's 17-foot jumper from the left elbow with 4:08 to play. Karl put Miller back in the game at the next stoppage, and the 13-year veteran was a stabilizing force.

Miller had back-to-back jumpers as Denver answered right back with five straight points, and he went five for six at the foul line in the final 69 seconds to close it out.

Denver's previous longest winning streak since the 1976 ABA-NBA merger was 12 straight in 1982. The franchise won 15 in a row in the 1969-70 ABA season.

"It's cool. I'm sure a lot of people didn't think we would get this game, but we talked about having some pride, working hard and practicing," Miller said. "We put in a lot of work to get to this point, so at least we came out and gave a good effort and it paid off."

Ty Lawson led Denver with 25 points. Miller also had nine assists and seven rebounds in 23 effective minutes.

Kevin Durant had 34 points and Westbrook chipped in 25 for Oklahoma City, which fell to 30-5 at home this season.

The Thunder gave up a season-worst 72 points in the paint -- Denver's specialty -- as both teams struggled throughout the game from 3-point range.

The Nuggets trailed by 10 early in the second quarter, but then dictated the tenor of the game the rest of the way.

"It's easy to fall into that trap. That's what they do. They get up and down the court," Durant said. "Our game is a little different. We want to run, but we want to run off our defense.

"Those guys run off of makes, misses of course and turnovers, but they continually run and pass the ball well and they score a lot in the paint. We fell into the trap and we couldn't play that game with them."

The Nuggets, who average an NBA-best 57.8 points in the paint, had 66 and 60 in that category in wins against Oklahoma City in Denver earlier this season.

"I'm sure they talked about keeping us out of the paint. They like to get to the paint and the free-throw line. It was just a battle of the wills, and we figured out how to play some defense in the second half, and that led to more paint points," said Miller.

Kenneth Faried said Miller spoke to the team before the game for the first time all season, preaching that there should be no excuses after a 109-108 overtime victory a night earlier in Chicago.

"Andre Miller is a guy who doesn't really say too much. ... When he talks, and he talks to the rest of us, everybody listens," Faried said. "Nobody's playing around. Everybody listens, everybody locks in and is focused."

Denver moved within 3
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