Golden State looked somewhat human in a nail-biting victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
In a return to dominant form, the Warriors sealed a 119-104 victory over the Denver Nuggets, confirmation that a trip to Oracle Arena could lead to embarrassment for visiting teams if they’re not careful.
A late comeback by Denver (2-4) made the scoreline look more presentable, but the Warriors (6-0) were a different class than the Nuggets on Friday, ending the first half with a 77-47 lead and sustaining a 25-plus point advantage for much of the contest.
Rarely has dominance looked this effortless.
Stephen Curry described it as such:
“It was beautiful basketball. We let our defense fuel our offense, we made the smart play, knocked down shots and opened the game up.”
Curry was again the main attraction dropping eight three pointers in a 34-point, 10-assist performance in which he played 35 minutes. Through six games, Curry is on pace to hit 492 triples, an inconceivable number that would shatter the current single-season record of 286 set last season by none other than Curry himself. When a reporter mentioned the number to the reigning MVP postgame, he couldn’t help but let out a hearty laugh:
“I’ve always believed three is better than two..If I beat what I did last year, I’m really doing something.”
What he did certainly had an impression on Nuggets small forward Danilo Gallinari:
“He’s the best player in the league right now.”
The Warriors shot just under 50 percent from the field and hit 17 from downtown. All five starters scored in double digits, four of them in the first half.
Per usual, the key to the Warriors’ dominance was exceptional ball movement, with Golden State notching an astounding 40 assists on 46 made buckets. Perhaps more unbelievable was the Warriors’ 28 assists on 30 shots in the first half. To put that in perspective, entering Friday, 20 teams — two-thirds of the league — hadn’t completed 28 assists in a game yet this season.
Interim head coach Luke Walton said he’s never seen anything like the way his team shared the ball:
“I don’t think so, not off the top of my head. Especially someone that enjoys passing as much as I do, that was my favorite part of the game.”
Harrison Barnes showed carryover from his hot fourth quarter against the Clippers, scoring a season-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Klay Thompson scored 18 and had his most consistent performance of the season, and Draymond Green narrowly missed a triple-double, finishing with 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
With Andrew Bogut still recovering from a concussion, Festus Ezeli continued to look like the most improved Warrior (along with Curry), scoring 16 points in 18 minutes on 7-for-7 shooting. The young center had an incredible 25-second sequence late in the second quarter, when he got a dunk off an inbounds play, emphatically blocked Emmanuel Mudiay at the rim and then sprinted back down court to finish off a alley-oop served up by Green.
Ezeli credits watching film and working out with Warriors defensive guru Ron Adams with the improvement in his overall game:
“He stresses that I play athletically, which is my biggest strength. Go and get rebounds, blocking shots, running the floor, diving to the rim. That opens so much more for our shooters.”
Walton was vague when asked if the Nigerian’s recent performances have put him in a position to keep the starting center job:
“None of that’s been decided.”
Gallinari paced the Nuggets with 25 points, while rookie Emmanuel Mudiay’s shooting struggle’s continued. The seventh overall pick scored 13 on 6-for-19 shooting and went 0-for-4 from long-range.
The Warriors made Denver pay for any fatigue they were feeling on the second game of their back-to-back, opening with a 40-point first quarter, four more points than the hapless Nuggets would score in the entire half. Green was the lone Warrior to finish the half in single digits, yet had maybe the most impressive line of 7 points, 7 assists and 8 boards.
The defense wasn’t shabby either, holding the Nuggets offense to 34.1% shooting in the first 24 minutes.
The Nuggets made a late push in the fourth quarter, when Jameer Nelson hit three consecutive three-pointers to cut the lead to 10. A Harrison Barnes three with two minutes remaining pushed the lead back to 16 and put the game out of reach.
The Warriors travel to visit face local rivals Sacramento Saturday, who will also be playing their second game in as many nights. Curry’s younger brother Seth plays for Sacramento, and is coming off a season high of eight points