photo from sfgate.com: Golden State Warriors Andrew Wiggins (22) looks to make a pass as Denver Nuggets Will Baton lll (5) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 3, 2020 in Denver
By Jerry Feitelberg
The Warriors, with only nine players available, marched into the Pepsi Center in Denver and stunned the highly-favored Denver Nuggets 116-100. The Warriors, without Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson, did not look anything like the championship club that went to the NBA finals the last five seasons.
Three of the players, Mychal Mulder, Dragan Bender, and Chasson Randle are on 10-day contracts. For Randle, the former Stanford star, it was his first game in the NBA as a Warrior. Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr fielded his 34th different starting lineup Tuesday night.
The W’s had to face the Nuggets, coached by former Warrior assistant coach Mike Malone, with the fourth-best record in the NBA 41-19. The Warriors did not have a true point guard in the lineup. The Warriors had to find a way to get to the rim as the Nuggets had a bigger team. Denver featured big Nikola Jokic on the first unit, and then, another seven-foot giant, Mason Plumlee, on the second unit.
The Warriors jumped out to an early 9-2 lead in the first period. The Nuggets didn’t panic and the first period was very competitive. The Warriors finished with a slim one-point advantage 26-25. The second quarter was a different story.
Denver, with Plumlee and Jokic clogging up the middle, took control of the game as they outscored the Dubs 33-23 to finish the first half leading by nine 58-49. The Warriors Andrew Wiggins was the only player in double figures with ten.
Mychal Mulder was second with eight, Dragan Bender eight, Eric Paschall seven, and Jordan Poole had five. Jamal Murray paced Denver with 14. Plumlee had 11, and Jokic had ten points and 12 rebounds. The Warriors went into the halftime break trailing by nine. The Warriors made ten threes to stay in the game. The Nuggets controlled the boards in the first half. They had 17 second-chance points and tallied 34 points in the paint.
Denver’s Paul Millsap was on fire to start the second half. Millsap’s efforts led the Nuggets to a 14-point lead 70-56. With the score 77-65, it looked as if Denver was going to run away with the game. It was at this point, however, that the Warriors, behind Andrew Wiggins, Dragan Bender, Eric Paschall, And Jordan Poole, caught fire. They went on a 17-4 run to finish the third quarter leading 82-81.
Jordan Poole made three consecutive three-point shots to propel the Warriors into the lead. Poole’s last three came as the buzzer sounded to end the third period. The Warriors outscored the Nuggets 33-23 to erase the nine-point halftime deficit.
The Warriors, feeling confident after the surge at the end of the third period, played well to start the fourth period. The offense was led by Poole, Bender, Wiggins, and Paschall. The Warriors played well on defense. The Nugget fans could not believe what they were seeing.
The lowly Warriors, with the worst record in the NBA, were beating the team with the fourth-best record in basketball. They could not comprehend what was happening. When the Warriors needed a bucket, they found Eric Paschall. When Paschall was bottled up, they found Marquese Chriss.
They moved the ball well. Warrior fans have to keep in mind that these guys have not played together for any length of time. Andrew Wiggins has fit in well since coming over from Minnesota. Mychal Mulder and Dragan Bender looked like seasoned pros.
Jordan Poole has played exceptionally well in his last ten games. Marquese Chriss, the eighth pick in the 2016 draft, has shown the Warriors that he belongs in the NBA. The Warriors outscored the Nuggets 34-19 in the period to finish the game with a well-earned 116-100 victory.
Game Notes and Stats- With the win, the W’s improve to 14-48. The W’s have 20 games left on the schedule. The team is hoping to have Steph Curry in the lineup Thursday night when the play the NBA Champions, the Toronto Raptors, at the Chase Center.
Andrew Wiggins led the W’s with 22 points, ten rebounds, ten assists, and he connected on five threes. Rookie Eric Paschall finished with 22 points, five boards, five assists, and two threes. Marquese Chriss 16 points, five rebounds, Dragan Bender 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, two threes. Jordan Poole 15 points, six assists, five rebounds, and he made four three in six tries.
The W’s shot 51% from the floor, and they made 18 threes in 41 attempts. The Nuggets made three threes in 20 tries. The Warriors moved the ball well as they frequently found the open man. They recorded 31 assists in the game.
The Nuggets outrebounded the W’s 53-35. However, the Warriors excellent three-point shooting negated any advantage that the Nuggets had. Paul Millsap, with 18, led the Nuggets’ scoring. Plumlee and Jokic each had 16. Jokic had just one rebound in the second half and finished the night with 13. Will Barton, who scored 31 the last time Denver played the Warriors, was held to 18. Jamal Murray ended the night with 14.
The Warriors return to the Chase Center to host the Toronto Raptors Thursday night in San Francisco. The game will start at 7:30 pm.