OKLAHOMA CITY — Dick Vitale whispers louder than Andre Miller screams.
But in the pregame locker room, the Nuggets' veteran guard delivered a powerful, passionate speech, channeling the oration of, say, Jesse Jackson, who just happened to be at Tuesday night's Nuggets-Thunder game.
"One amazing speech — guys were just amped up, ready to play," Denver forward Kenneth Faried said after the Nuggets' 114-104 win, Denver's 13th consecutive, a franchise-NBA record. "He said it doesn't matter that we're coming off a back-to-back, it doesn't matter that we went to overtime — we're going to play this game hard and with pride. We don't have any excuses. Andre Miller is a guy who doesn't really say much, but when he talks, everybody listens, nobody's playing around.
"Everybody locks in."
And sure enough, it was Miller who was locked in the most when it mattered. In just nine fourth-quarter minutes, he scored 13 points with six rebounds and three steals. Unreal. And he made two tough shots late. The second, a leaner in the lane with 1:29 left, gave Denver (47-22) a 10-point lead.
What a night. While Denver got to its hotel at 2 a.m., Oklahoma City (50-18) rested the night before. Also, Oklahoma City is really good. Also, Oklahoma City is really, really good in Oklahoma City, winners of 21 of their past 22 at home.
Tweeted fan @PeteWynn: "The Nuggets are going to make me weep like a father at his son's wedding."
Oh, and Miller, who played childhood ball with Bill Russell, celebrated a birthday Tuesday. The 37-year-old was up to his old old-school tricks, making nifty passes and keeping the Thunder players on their toes. Back in Denver, they must be going nuts at the YMCA.
"Incredible," Nuggets coach George Karl said of Miller, who finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in 23 minutes. "If he plays 10 more minutes, he'd get a triple-double. He's a coach, a teacher, a veteran and he does it every day in a classy way, a very quiet way. And then he can do what he did tonight - take the most talented team maybe in the NBA and be the best player on the court for the last six minutes of the game."
Check out the Nuggets' streak. Six of the 13 wins have come on the road, while eight of the opponents are at .500 or better and five of the 12 were against teams in ESPN's Top 10 Power Rankings.
And in the past 60 days, Denver has lost just four times.
"I don't want to get too happy about it because we have a challenge to move in to get homecourt," Karl said, "but there's no question that the brand of basketball we're playing is growing, and our confidence is growing with it."
In the postgame locker room, there was a birthday cake waiting for Miller. Carrot.
"That's my favorite," he said.
As he left the locker room, Miller was asked if this was, perhaps, the best birthday of his life. Back to being soft-spoken, he said: "Yeah, it was all right."
What you might have missed
In the second quarter, Kevin Durant tried one of those sweep moves, basically smacking Ty Lawson with the basketball — and Lawson got called for a foul. Nuggets coach George Karl was irate and Lawson, with three fouls, headed to the bench. ... At 5:22, with Denver up 10, Andre Iguodala missed an easy layup, which was perilous at the time. ... Oklahoma City guard Reggie Jackson, who grew up in Colorado Springs, played some quality minutes, scoring eight points with six rebounds.
WHAT a win.
Vs. Phila., Thursday, 7 p.m.