Warriors survive late burst from Denver, Win 124-114
After an undefeated road trip, the Golden State Warriors (32-8) flew back to the bay to take on the Denver Nuggets (21-18). The Warriors would be without Kevin Durant for the third straight game, but he was the only player sitting out for the Warriors. Stephen Curry was looking to continue his torrid stretch since his return from injury. The Nuggets were looking to shut down the Warriors like they did in their last time out, when they forced them to make just 3 threes. The Warriors went on to win the game, 124-114.
In the first quarter, the Warriors offense was incredible. They shot that ball at a 51.7% clip, and only committed two turnovers. They hit more threes in the first quarter than they did in the entire last game against the Nuggets, as they made four in the quarter. Klay Thompson was the leading scorer with nine points, and Draymond was close behind with eight of his own. The Nuggets also had a good quarter offensively, shooting 50% from the field. Their leading scorer was Nikola Jokic with nine points. The Warriors had the better shooting percentage despite shooting five more shots. Stephen Curry got off to a slow start by his standards, with seven points while going 2-7 from the field. He also got hurt when he was fouled on a fast break layup, and had to go to the locker room at the end of the quarter. Jordan Bell was incredible off the bench, scoring four points and making an incredible block. After the first quarter, the Warriors led the Nuggets 37-28.
The second quarter saw the Nuggets cut into the lead when Curry was on the bench for the beginning of the quarter. The Nuggets offense was very efficient, but their shooting percentage dropped a little, to 48.9%, while their 3pt% dropped from 50% to 40%. Jamal Murray was leading the charge for the Nuggets in the second quarter, finishing with 12 points, which led the team. For the Warriors, their shooting was even better despite missing Steph for the first half of the quarter. The team’s shooting percentage rose to 53.1%, and their three point percentage was 41.2%. Draymond Green and Stephen Curry led the team in scoring with 13 each. Both teams were doing a great job at minimizing turnovers, as each team finished with less than five turnovers in the half. The Warriors also blocked five shots, including several momentum-shifting blocks that were simply incredible. At the half, the Warriors led 64-57.
In the third quarter the Warriors went to work extending their lead on the back of Stephen Curry. Steph finished the quarter with 26 points, and made a three from damn-near half court, which was so beautiful it brought a tear to my eye. He was the driving force in the Warriors offense, and did the majority of the scoring for them. Klay Thompson hit a couple nice shots, including a perfect swish on a mid-range, turnaround jumper over Jamal Murray, who was playing good defense. Nick Young came off the bench and hit a couple nice shots, as he tends to do, and finished the quarter with eight. The Nuggets did not do much, and Nikola Jokic ended up having to sit the last half of the quarter after having the wind knocked out of him when he jumped on a Steph pump-fake. The Warriors gave the Nuggets some nice opportunities though, as they turned the ball over seven times in the quarter. After the third, the Warriors led 93-81.
The fourth quarter saw the Nuggets go on a couple runs to pull the game within six points, but the Warriors were able to respond each time to keep the Nuggets at bay. The bench played a big role down the stretch and helped to ice the game. David West, who was playing his 1,000th career game, continued to be incredible off the bench and scored 10 points on 5-8 shooting. Shaun Livingston was also great off the bench with 11 points, and had an incredible sequence in which he blocked a key shot and then had a ridiculous layup just seconds later. Stephen Curry had to play in the fourth quarter, and he ended up finishing the game with 32 points, which led all scorers. There was a questionable play down the stretch where Draymond Green passed up a wide-open dunk for a Curry three, but he missed, and the play could best be described as #arrogantSZN. The Warriors finished the game shooting an absurd 56.5%, and the Nuggets finished shooting 49.5%. The Warriors hung on to win the game 124-114.
While Stephen Curry was the game’s leading scorer with 32 points, Draymond Green quietly scored his season-high with 23 points. He had a very good game, going 8-12 and dishing out 10 assists while grabbing five rebounds, and blocking three shots. His unique playstyle was on display all night, and it was great to see. The only thing he didn’t do well was pass up a wide-open dunk, which made Steve Kerr look like this.
The Nuggets played a very good game, and look like they could do some damage in the playoffs. They have some nice players, and if Nikola Jokic plays like he did tonight in the playoffs, they will be a force to be reckoned with. Jokic was incredible tonight, scoring 22 points, while grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists. Even though he lost, he got a triple-double, so according to OKC fans on twitter, that means that they won. Going into the season, he was the NBA’s hipster choice to win MVP. Those talks have definitely cooled off, and deservedly so, but he is an incredible talent and I think that the future in Denver is bright as long as he is there.
The Warriors play next on Wednesday, January 10, at home against the Los Angeles Clippers at 7:30 p.m.