David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Nikola Jokic dropped his fifth triple-double of the season as the Denver Nuggets defeated the visiting Golden State Warriors 114-104 on Thursday at Ball Arena.
Jokic finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists despite amassing three first-half fouls that forced him to hit the bench before halftime. He dominated the second half with 18 points, helping Denver earn a 10-point win.
Golden State found itself in a 37-24 hole after the first quarter, but Stephen Curry did all he could to keep the Warriors in the game, dropping a game-high 35 points on 14-on-23 shooting (5-of-11 from three-point range).
The Warriors cut the Denver advantage to eight points in the fourth but could not creep any closer.
The 6-6 Nuggets have won three of four. The 6-6 Warriors dropped their second straight.
Warriors PG Stephen Curry: 35 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists
Warriors C James Wiseman: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks
Warriors G/F Andrew Wiggins: 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
Nuggets C Nikola Jokic: 23 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists
Nuggets PG Jamal Murray: 17 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists
Nuggets G/F Will Barton: 17 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Jokic Posts 5th Triple-Double in 12 Games
He’ll likely be an MVP front-runner if the 6-6 Nuggets can get going and move toward the front of the Western Conference, but until then, the 25-year-old is simply putting on a clinic every night.
Jokic entered the game averaging 24.3 points, 10.9 rebounds and 10.5 assists and was coming off a seven-steal effort against the Brooklyn Nets. He kept his torrid pace despite a so-so first half that saw him finish with only two more points (five) than fouls (three).
The foul trouble didn’t deter Jokic in the second half, and the big man took over the game from that point forward.
Jokic took rookie center James Wiseman to school with this spin and finish despite the foul:
He whipped a pass to Facundo Campazzo before the end of the third quarter, and the rookie responded with a three-pointer to close the frame.
The Warriors doubled Jokic on this following sequence, but the big man found Will Barton for three:
He closed the door by finishing this pick-and-roll with a bucket off a Jamal Murray feed:
Jokic has simply been sensational, with Thursday no exception. It’s possible that he can become the first big man ever to lead the league in assists. He’s neck-and-neck with Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden for that mark now.
For now, Jokic is trying to pilot the Nuggets back into the playoffs as they search for another deep postseason run one year after reaching the Western Conference Finals.
Curry Does It All For Warriors
Curry finished the night 15-of-24 from the field and 5-of-11 from three-point range. Denver had no answer for Curry, who continued his nightly domination of the nba. No shot better exhibited that notion than this 35-footer in Paul Millsap’s face despite being knocked down:
However, the Warriors once again struggled around Curry, continuing a cold-shooting season that saw the team enter Thursday in the bottom three in the nba in field-goal percentage.
Outside Curry and Wiseman, the Warriors made just 16-of-45 field goals and just 6-of-18 three-pointers. Kelly Oubre Jr., who entered the night shooting 35.3 percent from the field, went 3-of-10.
Eric Paschall went 2-of-9, and no other Warrior bench player hit more than one field goal. Draymond Green didn’t hit a shot either en route to a one-point night with five turnovers.
Andrew Wiggins scored a quiet 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting. Wiseman was the only other Warrior who largely fared well thanks to 18 points, including this emphatic dunk:
But it wasn’t enough as the Warriors couldn’t keep pace with the potent Denver attack, which scored 37 first-quarter points and kept Golden State at bay for the remainder of the game.
Turnovers didn’t help the Warriors either, with the team committing 19 versus Denver’s 13. Every possession was valuable with Denver sporting a rotation that featured seven players in double figures, but Golden State struggled taking care of the ball.
The sky certainly isn’t falling in Golden State after just 12 games despite a two-game losing streak that has featured two matchups where the Warriors never seriously threatened taking the lead in the fourth.
The Warriors are still .500, and one can imagine improvement will come if the team can at least become a league-average shooting unit or close to it.
Until then, Curry may have to play some hero ball as the rest of the team rounds into form.
Golden State will visit the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Monday at 10 p.m. ET. Denver will stay home to host the Utah Jazz on Sunday at 8 p.m.