Photo credit: @warriors
by Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors, facing questions about the play of the team after being trashed by the Boston Celtics Tuesday night, bounced back and beat the Denver Nuggets 122-105 at Oracle Arena Friday night. The Warriors entered the game leading the Nuggets by one game for the best record in the Western Conference. The Warriors’ win increased their lead to two with 17 games left to play in the regular season.
The Warriors now lead the Nuggets 2-1 and play once more on April 2nd at Oracle Arena. The task for the Warriors Friday night was to stop the Nuggets’ starting lineup. They needed DeMarcus Cousins to find a way to shackle the Nuggets’ big man Nikola Jokic. Jokic came into the game averaging a triple-double for the season. Wilt Chamberlain was the only other center to be able to do that for an entire season. The Warriors had to find a way to get off to a good start. They had lost five of the last eight games and trailed by more than 10 points at halftime in at least six of the last 10 games played.
Klay Thompson returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a knee injury. Klay helped the Warriors to get off to a good start. His two-game hiatus gave him some needed rest, and he helped propel the Warriors to a 30-20 first quarter. Kevin Durant, Cousins, and Steph Curry all made shots while the Warrior defense kept Denver down. The one drawback in the quarter was the number of fouls the Warriors committed. Those fouls enabled Denver to go on a 12-3 run to close the gap to 10.
The Nuggets tied the game early in the second quarter at 34. From that point, the lead changed hands several times. The Warriors were leading 53-48 when they went on a 14-2 run to finish the first half with a 17-point lead 67-50. Klay made two threes and Curry helped out with one of his own. Denver’s Malik Beasley kept the Nuggets close as he made four threes and led the Nuggets with 14. None of the Denver starters were in double figures. Jokic was held to 8 points and 3 boards. Klay Thompson had 27 in the first 24 minutes. Kevin Durant had 16, Steph Curry 9, and Andre Iguodala had 5 coming off the bench.
The closest the Nuggets came was 79-70 after the Warriors made too many turnovers. The Nuggets capitalized, but the Warriors righted the ship and increased the lead to 15 90-75 at the end of three periods. In the fourth quarter, DeMarcus Cousins, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Steph Curry increased the lead to 21, 105-84. Klay continued to make threes. Cousins hit a three and raised his hands upward as he had not hit one for several games. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr removed the starters and the second unit players finished the game as the Warriors won 122-105.
Game Notes and Stats: DeMarcus Cousins had his best defensive effort since his return from the devastating Achilles tendon injury he suffered last season when he was a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. He had 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. He also had 3 steals and six blocked shots. It was, without question, an All-Star performance. He also held Jokic to just 16 points and handled the Nuggets other big, Mason Plumlee.
Klay Thompson led the team with 39 points. Thompson made nine threes in 11 attempts. Durant had 26, Steph Curry 17, and Kevon Looney had 9 points and 8 rebounds off the bench.
Malik Beasley led the Nuggets with 17. Beasley mad 5 threes, but was held to just 3 points in the second half. Jokic finished with 16. Will Barton had 5, Gary Harris 6, and Jamal Murray 11.
The Warriors are now 45-20 and own a two-game lead of the 43-22 Nuggets for the NBA Western Conference lead.
Up Next: The Warriors meet the very young and, suddenly, improving Phoenix Suns. The Suns upset the Milwaukee Bucks last week and cannot be taken lightly. Game time will be at 5:30 pm Sunday night.
The Warriors then go on the road for four games. They face the Houston Rockets Wednesday night for the fourth time this season.
The Rockets lead the series 3-0. They then go to Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and Minnesota.