There will be no sweep of the Warriors during this regular season, at least not by the Denver Nuggets.
Stephen Curry stepped up to crush that possibility Thursday night, driving a third-quarter comeback that pushed the Warriors to a 113-102 victory at Ball Arena in downtown Denver.
Curry scored 18 of his game-high 24 points during a 30-12 run that wiped out a 14-point deficit, giving the Warriors consecutive wins for the first time since Feb. 7 and moving them into a tie with the Grizzlies for second place in the Western Conference.
The Warriors played well enough on defense to give the offense a chance, and the scoring came through over the final 20 minutes.
Here are three observations from a victory over a potential playoff opponent.
Landing in Denver late Wednesday afternoon a couple hours before the Nuggets tipped off against the Kings in Sacramento, the Warriors were the rested team.
So while the Nuggets pretty much owned the first half and the first four minutes of the third quarter – piling up a 33-22 rebounding advantage and a 21-4 margin in second-chance points – the Warriors stayed with it.
Eventually, the Nuggets faded. After a 60-point first half, they scored 42 in the second. The Warriors outscored them 53-30 over the final 20 minutes.
In addition to Curry’s scoring – he also became the 49th player to reach 20,000 points for his career – Jordan Poole put in 21 points to deliver his fifth consecutive game with at least that many.
Jonathan Kuminga and Klay Thompson each tossed 18, as Thompson shook off a 7-of-20 shooting night.
Still waiting for Wiggins
Andrew Wiggins entered the evening carrying a 14-game empty streak no All-Star starter wants, as that’s how long it had been since he scored at least 20 points.
The streak was extended to 15.
Finishing with seven points, shooting 3-of-11 from the field, including 1-of-7 beyond the arc, Wiggins’ defense came in spurts and his free throws came not at all. He was 0-of-3 from the line and is now 9-of-26 from the line since January.
He was reasonably aggressive early but mostly ineffective and inaccurate. His most reliable shot this season has been corner 3-balls, particularly from the left side, but he missed wide-open looks from each in the first quarter.
Wiggins was very good at both ends during the first quarter of the season and exceptional enough in the second to build All-Star momentum. He was dreadful in the third quarter. Five games into the most crucial quarter of the season, there is no sign of turning the corner.
When Wiggins fails to make an impact, it limits this team’s potential against quality opponents.
It has been a season of several highs and many lows for Nemanja Bjelica, and Thursday was the latest to toss into the “low” file.
Bjelica played nine first-half minutes out of necessity, as he is first in a very short line of those able to give starting center Kevon Looney a breather. Beli produced two assists, one rebound, zero points, one turnover and one atrocious foul on a 3-point shooter.
His stint is best illustrated by the fact that was a minus-15.
Bjelica’s greatest weakness is on defense, where he’s consistently targeted. His limitations can’t be coached away. His greatest assets are passing and deep shooting. His passing is generally solid, but the shot has deserted him. He’s at 18.2 percent (6-of-33) over the last 20 games.
At this rate, Beli won’t get meaningful minutes once the roster is healthy.