Steph Curry had 32 points, and Draymond Green scored 23 points, and the Warriors had a really strong game from the reserves to get revenge for a loss before Christmas to the Nuggets.
Nikola Jokic had 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in the loss, in what was one of his best games of the season. Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Trey Lyles combined for 64 points, but the team couldn’t get stops and they weren’t able to complete a rally.
The game started off with the ball popping for both teams. The Nuggets and Warriors couldn’t miss, with each team trading buckets back and forth. The Nuggets broke first, and the Warriors jumped out to a 24-14 lead after a Klay Thompson layup off a bad pass by Jamal Murray.
Murray did not have things clicking in the first quarter, missing all four of his field goal attempts and committing two turnovers. He certainly didn’t lack energy however, playing with fire and doing all he could to stick with Steph Curry. Trey Lyles and Will Barton were the first Nuggets off the bench, and they immediately began to make magic. Lyles went 3 for 5, attacking the rim and getting to the free throw line.
The Warriors bench mob rallied in the final minutes against the Nuggets reserves, with Jordan Bell blocking a Will Barton shot and then closing out the quarter with an offensive putback. The Warriors staked out a 37-28 lead at the end of the quarter, with Jokic putting up 9 points in 9 minutes.
Jamal Murray got his first bucket in the second quarter, knocking down a two-pointer to get on the scoreboard. The Warriors bench mob blocked a couple shots, and that allowed them to go on a quick 6-0 run that stretched their lead to 13 points. Torrey Craig had a couple baskets in a row, showing off his experience by making smart cuts to the rim so Jokic could find him.
The Nuggets and Warriors both had a couple defensive stops, but Torrey Craig made a mistake by leaving Klay Thompson open for a 3-pointer that pushed the Warriors lead back up to 13. Mason Plumlee had a nice stretch of play over a minute, slamming home a two-handed dunk, blocking a Shaun Livingston jumper, and then making TWO free throws IN A ROW, capped off with another dunk. Jokic was fouled on a 3-point attempt, and made all three of his attempts to pull the Nuggets within seven.
The play of the half came when Jamal Murray drove into the lane against Andre Iguodala, crossed him over, making Iguodala stumble like a blind rodent exposed to unnatural sunlight - like a mole out of his hole. It was glorious, and Murray knocking down the jumper after staring at Iguodala on the ground was the icing on the cake.
The Warriors and Nuggets traded small runs to end the quarter, and the Warriors had a 64-57 lead at halftime. Jokic officially entered triple-double watch with 12 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, while Curry and Green each had 13 points for the Warriors.
Nikola Jokic came out of the locker room on a mission, scoring four times in a row to help the Nuggets draw within two points. Jamal Murray hit a midrange jumper to tie the game at 67, and things started getting interesting. The Warriors went on an 11-2, with the Splash Bros. taking over the game. Nick Young had a ridiculous shot go in, flipping the ball over his head when he thought he got fouled and it went in without the refs blowing their whistles. He followed it up with a 3-pointer on the Warriors next possession, and Curry hit a 3-pointer on the next possession and it was a 91-77 game. The Warriors were dancing, Oracle was rocking, and the momentum was all with the Warriors.
The Warriors started the fourth quarter with a 93-81 lead, but it was tough for the Nuggets to gain ground because the Warriors are just too talented at shooting. They were making tough shots, and started to toy with the Nuggets a little bit before the game was actually over.
The Nuggets fought back late, cutting the lead down to six points with about 90 seconds left, but Draymond Green had four straight points, and the game was over from that point.
The Nuggets had a great offensive night. The Warriors didn’t have Kevin Durant tonight, and he would have made things more difficult for the Nuggets, but they still were able to drop 114 points on one of the best defensive teams in the league. Jokic was cooking, finding multiple players on cuts to the rim for easy baskets. I don’t think he quite yet trusts his perimeter shot, and there are times he looks confused on what to do with Mason Plumlee on the court, but hopefully tonight reminds him of what happens when he is aggressive. His teammates should also watch the tape of this game to realize what happens when they screen for their teammates and cut in rhythm.
Jamal Murray wasn’t quite good enough tonight. While most of the Nuggets had things going their way, it was tough sledding for the sophomore guard. Murray went 8 for 22 from the field, leading the team in field goal attempts. I don’t have a problem with him taking that many shots, and many of his looks were good looks. Unfortunately, some of those shots didn’t fall, but you have to have hope that eventually he’ll be able to knock those down. He took a lot of good shots, that’s a positive to take from the game.
Defensively, I think it’s difficult to be overly critical of him. He’s a young player, and guarding Steph Curry is impossible for every player in the NBA except for like three or four guys. He seems like the kind of worker that will study this film, and try to improve in the next matchup. Have to watch out for those 30-foot 3-point shots, they’ll sneak up on you.
Wilson Chandler is not having a good year. It’s been 40 games for the Nuggets, and I can’t think of a single game where I was impressed with how he’s done. He had an alright game if you look at the box score - 8 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists - but just seems to be coasting when he’s out there. He’s such a difficult player to assess, and I’m sure he’s frustrated with some of the struggles he’s having. It’s tough to see him out there right now though. It’s not pretty, but there isn’t a better option for the Nuggets.