The Warriors battled attrition as much as they did the Denver Nuggets in last night’s contest. Short six players before tip-off and then losing Stephen Curry to a re-injured leg and Andrew Bogut to fouls, Golden State had only seven available players down the stretch in a scattered but entertaining game against a frisky Denver squad. Fortunately for the Warriors, they were able to rely on a huge early lead built when Curry was in the game, another stellar performance from Draymond Green, and good-enough play from the remaining Warriors to pull out the victory. Golden State is now 31-2 on the season and 16-0 at home. New year, same Warriors.

Here are 10 thoughts on the game:

1) The Warriors were up 5-0 40 seconds into the game. At the 9:42 mark, they had an 8-2 lead. That jumped to 16-2 a minute later. By the end of the first quarter, they were up 24 points behind Draymond Green who was in full Splash Cousin mode hitting 4/5 threes, and a defense that held the nuggets to only 13 points on 22-percent shooting. The game had all the makings of another blowout in Oracle, but credit Mike Malone’s Nuggets for chipping away at the lead all night outscoring the Warriors in the second, third and fourth quarters. Led by 65 combined points from Gallinari, Barton and Nelson, Denver muscled their way to 24 offensive rebounds and got 19 more shot attempts than the Dubs to force overtime.

2) The Warriors won so this will be forgotten, but up three points with 6.4 seconds remaining in OT, Ian Clark and Klay Thompson had multiple chances to foul Darrell Arthur or Will Barton to send either man to two free throws in a three-point game but didn’t. Luckily for them, Barton’s three-point attempt in the waning seconds clanked wide-left.

Draymond Green3) Even a month ago there were still people wondering whether Draymond Green was deserving of an All-Star appearance. Wonder no more. Dray had 18, 4 and 4 … in the first quarter. He finished with his second consecutive triple-double, logging 29 points, 17 rebounds, 14 assists, and 5 combined blocks and steals. He also bullied his way for a crucial basket over Gallinari to tie the game in overtime. Another superb performance for someone who isn’t only deserving of All-Star recognition, but probably All-NBA First Team as well.

4) At one point, the camera panned to the Warriors bench and there were more coaches (5) than healthy players (3). For a second I wondered whether 37-year-old Jarron Collins and 35-year-old Luke Walton had enough game in them to run a few minutes as player-coaches. Those two couldn’t possibly have been worse than the Jason Thompson-Marreese Speights pairing early in the fourth that gave up most of the lead.

5) Speaking of Speights, Mo finished with a minus-8 on the night but made multiple big plays to preserve the win. He drew a huge charge in OT on Barton and then hit a tie-breaking jumper out of the timeout. He also smartly passed the ball to Klay after grabbing a rebound so the better free throw shooter would go to the line (though Klay missed one). That’s the Mo Buckets we’ve been waiting for. The one that almost single-handedly won the Warriors multiple games last season. Hopefully this game is a harbinger of future buckets to come.

6) Minus Festus Ezeli, Shuan Livingston did his best center impersonation with a soul-crushing left-handed block on 6′ 9″ Darrell Arthur. He also had another one on Barton in the final minute of the fourth.

7) With under 50 seconds in regulation, Klay found himself with the ball and guarded by Kenneth Faried at the top of the key. With only 6 seconds left on the shot clock, Klay tried to dribble past the Manimal, but then a second Nugget entered the fray and easily stole the ball for an open dunk in transition. I think Denver probably read the scouting report. Klay’s a wonderful player, but handling the ball and trying to go East to West is not his strong suit.

Andrew Bogut Denver Nuggets8) Bogut’s ability to play his man and a space is key to the Warriors’ back line defense. In one sequence at the 11:20mark in the third, he was able to keep Barton from driving in the lane with good positioning, then take one step towards Faried in the paint, staying just close enough to take away the angle for a lob pass but also be out enough on the side to thwart a second drive by Barton. He doesn’t get a traditional stat for his positioning but the Warriors were able to prevent a score after the defense had broken down at the top. This is why Bogut continues to be an All-NBA defensive center. And it didn’t even require him to jump.

9) Apparently Ian Clark had been living in a hotel up until recently during his Warriors tenure. Good idea by the 24-year-old journeyman to find more permanent lodging as he is starting to become a rotation fixture in Curry’s absence. Clark had a third straight strong performance with 15 points on 7-8 shooting in 37 minutes. He registered a negative plus-minus, but in a game where the Warriors just needed to survive, he was like mid-career Barry Zito, a pitcher who eats up innings and gives the team a chance to win in the end. Clark had three plays that were eerily reminiscent of Curry: there was the hesitation blow-by for a one-handed runner, the flip-shot high off the glass over a big man, and the ball-fake turnaround in the lane for a lead in OT. This guy is continuing to get better. (Let’s just forget that Denver was continually targeting his defense in the fourth quarter with Nelson-Gallinari pick and rolls.)

10) It felt selfish to be concerned with the outcome of this game while Faried was being tended to for a neck injury suffered in the final seconds of OT. He left the game on a stretcher but gave the thumbs up. Let’s hope for a quick and full recovery.

One Response

  1. ds207

    Clark looks like he might be a keeper as he hustles, has a decent shot and he looks like he is comfortable out there. Glad Barnes is back, as Rush is not a great starter and is more effective in spurts off the bench.