by Jerry Feitelberg
The Golden State Warriors and the Denver Nuggets played a very entertaining and fast-paced game Monday night at Oracle Arena. The Nuggets, behind the great play of their three big men Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic, and Danilo Gallinari, stayed close to the Dubs for most of the game. The Warriors ha six players in double figures and Draymond Green had his second triple-double of the season. Ian Clark was hot in the first half, and Shaun Livingston made three big baskets down the stretch to doom the Nuggets Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant all scored more than twenty points in the game and the Warriors are now 12-0 for the season when that happens. As a result, the Warriors were able to down a very determined Denver Nugget team 127-119.
Both teams played a very high scoring first quarter as evidenced by the fact that each team shot over 60% from the floor, The lead changed hands several times in the quarter, but the Dubs finished the first 12 minutes of play leading 35-33. Steph, Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Zaza Pachulia and Ian Clark led the team in scoring. The Dubs increased the lead to four at the half when KD hit a 3-point shot as the buzzer sounded. The Warriors couldn’t put Denver into its dust. The Dubs tried, but the Nuggets kept coming back. They Nuggets tied the game at 51, but the Warriors were able to go up by six 62-56. The Nuggets closed the gap to just one 65-64, but Durant’s 3-pointer at the buzzer put the Warriors ahead by 4. Kevin Durant led the Dubs with 13.
Zaza Pachulia added 9, Klay had 12 and Steph tallied 11. Ian Clark, coming off the bench scored 12. Clark is getting more playing time, and his confidence has soared as he has become an instant offense for Golden State when he comes into the game. Jokic had 8 for Denver. Greg Harris had 7, and Wilson Chandler knocked down 6. Gallinari, who is six feet 10 inches tall scored 11. Jusuf Nurkic and Will Barton, coming off the bench, tallied nine apiece for the Nuggets.
The Dubs, who usually go on a tear in the third quarter to put away their opponent, were not able to do that to the Nuggets. They did outscore the Nuggets by five to increase the lead to 9 at the end of the period, but it was not easy. The Dubs were leading by 6 points 86-80 when Steph Curry scored 2 buckets and 2 free throws. Draymond Green also made 2 free throws, and the Dubs enjoyed a 14-point lead which was the biggest lead of the night. The Nuggets scored the next 5 points and trailed by just nine heading into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors led by 15 late in the quarter. Shaun Livingston made three big buckets to help propel the Dubs to that advantage. The Nuggets kept coming back. With the score 121-111, the Warriors failed to score on three trips to the basket. The Nuggets closed the gap to six. The key play to seal the win was made by Draymond Green. Draymond not only fought for an offensive rebound but was able to make a layup to put the Warriors up by eight. Each team scored another basket, and the Warriors won again 127-119.
Game notes- the Warriors big tree of Klay Thompson, Steph Curry had 25, 22, and 21 points respectively. The Warriors had good ball movement again as they tallied 33 assists in the game. Denver also moved the ball well, and they recorded 33 assists too. The Warriors shot 52.6% from the floor and held Denver to 47.5%. The Dubs made 11 3-point shots in 15 attempts while Denver was 9-for-35 in that department. The Warriors turned the ball over 13 times which pleased coach Steve Kerr. Denver also took care of the ball as the committed just 14 turnovers in the game. The Warriors scored 22 fast break points and had 56 points in the paint.
Denver had 60 points in the paint for the game. The Warrior defense had trouble with Denver’s big men, but Steve Kerr said the “we started defending well the last five minutes of the second quarter. Draymond Green scored 15 points to go along with 13 assists and 10 rebounds for his second consecutive game with a triple-double. Green was a force on the floor all night, and he made two huge rebounds that helped secure the win for Golden State. Jokic and Chandler led Denver with 21 points each. Gallinari had 19, Nurkic 15, Barton 14, and Harris 11.
After the game, Kerr said that “Denver changed their style a little bit.” Coach Mike Malone, a former Warrior assistant coach, and former Sacramento Kings head coach, removed Nurkic from the starting lineup and has him coming off the bench. Chandler replaced him in the starting lineup. The Warrior’s bench player scored 33 points in the game, and Kerr said ” the bench was the key to the game.” they had to be good as the Denver bench outscored them 39-33.
The Warriors won their 30th game of the season and are now 30-5. Denver, a team that had won 5 of their last 8, falls to 14-19.
The Warriors resume play Wednesday night against the Portland Trailblazers at Oracle Arena. Game time will be at 7:30 pm. It will be the third meeting of the year between the two teams, and the Blazers will be trying to avenge the 45 point loss the last time the played the Dubs in Oakland on December 17th.