Remember in my game preview when I said that the Warriors were one of the few bad NBA teams actually capable of beating any team on any given night? Tonight's 109-101 Warriors victory over our Nuggets proved why.
[Enter your blazing hot verb here.]
Capable of catching fire with their assortment of streaky shooters, the Warriors did just that on Thursday night by connecting on 52% of their three-point attempts and 51.9% of their field goals. Trying to match them shot-for-shot, the Nuggets - who haven't been able to shoot straight en route to five straight losses and six losses in seven games - managed to connect on just 37.5% of their three pointers and just 43.5% of their field goals. And the three point numbers are somewhat misleading as rookies Jordan Hamilton and Julyan Stone each made 50% of their threes when the game was no longer in doubt.
Every game during the Nuggets' five game losing streak comes with a valid excuse. Against the Lakers, the Nuggets were playing a back-to-back (the Lakers weren't) and the Nuggets lost center Timofey Mozgov to a nasty ankle sprain early. Against the Trail Blazers, the Nuggets were playing the third game of a back-to-back-to-back on the road and were simply exhausted. Against the Rockets, the Nuggets lost Danilo Gallinari to an ankle sprain and were already without Nene Hilario, Arron Afflalo, Corey Brewer and Mozgov. Against the Mavericks, the injury-depleted Nuggets (especially with Gallo and Moz out) couldn't hang with the taller team from Dallas. And tonight against the Warriors, the Nuggets were playing their seventh game in 10 days plus the Warriors were simply red hot ... they could have beaten anyone shooting that well.
All those excuses are valid.
But taken as a whole, you are what your record says you are and the Nuggets are dropping games at an alarming rate. Of even greater concern, many of these losses are happening at Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets have shockingly become a .500 team.
I don't know how it looked on television, but from the stands the Nuggets seemed to lack purpose tonight (maybe it was the back-to-back whereas the Warriors were rested and ready to game up). Too many fumbled layups. Too many missed free throws. Virtually no blocked shots. Too many errant jump shots. All signs of a fatigued team, to be sure.
And it gets no easier from here. Other than drawing the Suns on Tuesday (never an easy match up for Denver), every team the Nuggets play throughout February is .500 or better. Making predictions at home, you probably had the Warriors game penciled in for one of the Nuggets should-be victories of February.
With the Nuggets playing as is, there's no such thing as a should-be victory anymore.
The view from the not-so-cheap seats ...
... with Nene starting at center, the Nuggets reverted back to small ball to open the game. Nuggets head coach George Karl went with his "energy guys" of Kenneth Faried and Rudy Fernandez, too, probably hoping to catch the Warriors off guard and build up a nice first quarter lead. Karl's energy guys basically played the Warriors to standstill and never moved the Nuggets up the chess board tonight. And on the flip side, this left Karl without any energy guys coming off the bench.
... Stephen Curry might be a rich man's Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Similar games, but Curry has a better overall sense of the game.
... it was fun watching Faried battle the Warriors' David Lee for rebounds. Faried is just bursting with energy out there and may have had his best game as a Nugget thus far.
... the Nuggets made Warriors backup center Ekpe Udoh look like Hakeem Olajuwon. Not only did Udoh have five blocks, but he altered many more.
... Arron Afflalo is looking better out there. The Nuggets need him to step up and make jump shots. Desperately.
... Nene was aggressive in the first half, making all five of his shots. Then he disappeared in the second half. Nuggets Nation is collectively shocked to read this.
... Warriors' rookie Klay Thompson - son of Lakers broadcaster and former Laker Mychal Thompson - was phenomenal, making 8 of his 11 field goal attempts including 3 three-pointers.
... the Warriors' front line of Lee, Andris Biedrins and Dorrell Wright is actually taller in person than they appear to be on TV.
... the Warriors are supposedly coached by Mark Jackson, but it sure looked like Don Nelson is still running the show in Golden State given the way they rush up shots.
... Karl went with his "trust" guys for most of the fourth quarter - Fernandez, Afflalo, Nene, Lawson, Andre Miller, Al Harrington - and they just didn't have the gas to compete with Golden State's energy.
NON-STIFF OF THE GAME
Stephen Curry: Curry killed the Nuggets - and Lawson in particular with multiple killer crossovers bringing back memories of Tim Hardaway. Curry finished with 36 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists ... and 2 blocks!
STIFF OF THE GAME
Rudy Fernandez: Fernandez just couldn't get it going tonight. 4-13 shooting. 4 turnovers. And a +/- of -17.
There are only four bad teams in the Western Conference, and the Nuggets just got trounced by one of them ... at home, no less.