The Golden State Warriors, former NBA Finalists, traveled to Denver to play a depleted Nuggets team tonight. The Dubs were without Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston, but the Nuggets were short five players of their own due to a series of injuries and short one Mason Plumlee on account of he just got traded yesterday. You’d expect the Warriors to run away with this one, or put Nikola Jokic’s big head on a spike with a trademark 22-3 run in the third quarter, or do really anything besides what they did, which was to get blown out from start to finish and cede an NBA record.
From the very start of the game, Denver looked like the livelier team. They dropped 42 in the first quarter without their leading scorer thanks to some fantastic all-around play from Jokic. He had six points, seven boards, four dimes, and two steals in the first frame, including this easy give-and-go.
Jokic was the best player on the floor tonight, finishing with 17, 21, and 12. The Serbian big man doesn’t jump off the screen like more springy big dudes, but that’s not to say that he’s not athletic. Jokic always seems to take the right angle when going up for a rebound or cutting off a pick-and-roll. He looks like he’s lollygagging when he’s running, bobbing his head side to side, but he has an impeccable sense of space and a knack for finding open teammates as soon as he touches the ball. When he’s in traffic, Jokic moves and leaps with his arms fully outstretched, which just makes everything he does harder to stop. The Nuggets outrebounded the Warriors 52-27 tonight, thanks in large part to the large boy. Don’t mistake his laconic disposition for laziness or disinterest, Jokic can pull all the strings. You’ll enjoy his full highlight reel.
You’ll also enjoy Steph Curry’s highlight reel, which is as follows.
Curry went for 11 points on 18 shots and was generally butt. Every Warrior starter who played 16 or more minutes finished with a plus-minus south of -22 and the team’s only moment of competency was a bench-led, short-lived run halfway through the fourth quarter that the Nuggets quickly snuffed out. While Curry couldn’t toss up anything but a cavalcade of bricks, the Nuggets hit everything they took.
They finished with 24 made threes, which ties the NBA regular season record. The team’s other 21-year-old European big dude, Juancho Hernangomez, led the way with six, and he hit the record-tying three. The team tried to make the record their own but they missed three chances at 25.
The Nuggets certainly look like the pick out of the hydra of mediocre teams contending for the last playoff spot out West, and thankfully, they’d make for the most fun matchup with the Warriors.