The last two games between the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors featured dominant first quarters from the defending champions. The first, in Denver back in January, was an offensive display that won’t be forgotten by those who witnessed it.
A hot start was as important as ever for the Nuggets when they took one last swing at the Warriors in Oracle Arena on Tuesday night. Paul Millsap did everything he could to give them just that. But it was futile.
The Warriors smashed the Nuggets 116-102.
Millsap scored Denver’s first seven points. After Will Barton missed two early free throws, Millsap snared the offensive rebound, kicked the ball out, relocated and knocked down a three-pointer through contact. And-one. He hit another three a on their next trip down the floor. In his first five minutes on the court, Millsap put up 11 points and 4 assists.
On the other side it was Demarcus Cousins who had his way. He finished the first quarter with 10 points and 4 rebounds—though the damage he wreaks inside is far from the worst outcome when playing Golden State. The Nuggets traded buckets with Cousins and Kevin Durant, but Curry got involved late. He hit one three and created another for Alfonzo McKinnie shortly after, making him responsible for 6 points in an 8-0 run to close the quarter.
The Warriors held a 30-24 lead after one.
Denver’s second unit struggled to start the second quarter. Monte Morris went on a personal 5-0 run off the jump, but he was the only Nugget who could make an impact offensively. Golden State’s lead grew to 10 before the starters checked back in.
Then it got worse. The Warriors closed on an 18-12 run, with Durant scoring 10 points personally. Their lead grew to 16 and the scoreboard read 59-43 at the half.
The remainder of the game would only get interesting for about five minutes. Durant was given two consecutive technicals and subsequently ejected with 8:20 remaining in the third after arguing over a no-call. The Warriors led 70-51 at the time, and briefly, ever so briefly, there was a glimmer of hope that Denver could pry the door back open.
But Golden State slammed it shut.
The lead didn’t drop below 19 until garbage time. Denver shot 39% from the floor overall and went 7-for-31 from deep in the loss.
The Nuggets will take on the Spurs tomorrow in San Antonio for the second half of a back-to-back. That game tips off at 7:00 pm MT.