The Golden State Warriors destroyed the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, improving to a cool 7-2 on the season with a 125-101 win at the Pepsi Center. Stephen Curry put on a show, particularly in the third quarter, finishing with 33 points, seven assists and five rebounds in 30 minutes, shooting 10-for-17 and 7-for-13 from behind the arc.
Curry is on a roll: Since missing all 10 of his 3-point attempts against the Los Angeles Lakers last Saturday, Curry is shooting 34-for-55 from the field and 24-for-38 from 3-point range. That’s absurd, even for him, and it’s safe to say he has hit his stride this season.
The Warriors’ competition hasn’t been great lately, but it’s worth noting that they’re starting to look more like they did last season. Curry’s scoring explosions are part of that, as is the sight of him sitting on the bench for the entire fourth quarter and still finishing with a crazy stat line. Also, this kind of highlight felt familiar:
Do you feel bad for Jamal Murray? I kind of do. He’s going to have a bunch of “welcome to the league” messages waiting for him when he checks Twitter, and this wasn’t really his fault. He actually did a pretty good job staying with Curry, but still wound up looking foolish. This is just what Curry does to people.
Also, if you were concerned at all about Curry tweaking his ankle in Dallas on Wednesday, it appears you can relax. There were no signs that he was limited here.
A new center emerges: For those who have been calling for Golden State coach Steve Kerr to give JaVale McGee a chance, this was some kind of validation. McGee entered the game in the first quarter and the Warriors immediately went on an 11-0 run, with his teammates clearly looking to get him the ball around the basket. Here he is knocking Kenneth Faried out of his way and dunking all over Nikola Jokic:
This was easily McGee’s best game as a Warrior. He finished with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting, with three rebounds, one assist, two blocks and one turnover in 15 minutes against his former team.
It’ll be worth watching whether or not Kerr continues to make McGee a regular part of the rotation. He brings the sort of size, length and leaping ability that Golden State does not otherwise have, and it looks like the ball-handlers love having a target for alley-oops.
The slump seems over: Klay Thompson won’t have to field any questions about his errant jumper after this one. Like Curry, he has gotten back on track since that disaster in Los Angeles. This wasn’t a huge game for him — he had 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting, including 3-for-4 from deep — but that might be the most encouraging part. The worry about Thompson’s cold streak was that he was having trouble adjusting to a smaller role. That’s not a story anymore.
It’s easy being Green: Speaking of smaller roles, Draymond Green is thriving in his. He had 13 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals in 29 minutes, shooting 4-for-7 and 3-for-4 from 3-point range. This kind of stat line is normal for him now, but it doesn’t properly illustrate how much of an impact he made with his defense.
It’s easy being Beasley: Nuggets rookie Malik Beasley was one of their few bright spots. He hit two 3-pointers in less than a minute near the end of the third quarter, and this was his first real playing time of his career. In 15 minutes, Beasley scored 12 points on 5-for-10 shooting. It’s already tricky for Denver coach Michael Malone to find minutes for all of his promising young players, and Beasley might make that even more complicated.
Altitude, shmaltitude: The Warriors weren’t bothered by the toughest back-to-back in the NBA, starting this game with perhaps their best quarter of the season. They took advantage of eight Nuggets turnovers in the opening frame, breaking the game open and heading into the second quarter with a 38-19 lead. The game was never in doubt after that, and none of Golden State’s stars had to play big minutes.
Durant’s streak ends: Kevin Durant finished with 18 points on 8-for-16 shooting, plus nine rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal in 30 minutes. That’s a perfectly fine line, but it’s also the end of a special streak. For 72 straight games before this one, Durant had scored 20 points or more. That’s the fourth-longest such streak in NBA history, tied with Michael Jordan (1987-88) and behind separate Wilt Chamberlain streaks of 126 games (1961-63) and 92 games (1963-64) and Oscar Robertson’s 79-game streak (1963-64).
I suppose the end was inevitable as soon as Durant joined a super-team, but it was fun while it lasted.
Another record broken: As CBS Sports’ Matt Moore noted, the Warriors have now played 96 regular-season games without losing two consecutively. This is the first time any team has accomplished this feat.