OAKLAND — And 72 hours after the embarrassment came the redemption.
The Warriors opened with a vengeance and responded to their every lapse in a 122-105 whacking of the Denver Nuggets on Friday night at Oracle Arena.
The victory was a needed catharsis for the Warriors in the wake of a 33-point blowout loss – the worst home loss of the Steve Kerr era – to Boston on Tuesday.
It also allowed the Western Conference leading Warriors (45-20) to extend their lead over second-place Denver (43-22) to two games.
Here are three quick takeaways from a game in which the Warriors trailed for a total of 22 seconds:
Klay brings the heat
Having missed the last two games with soreness in his right knee, Klay Thompson was eager to go back to work. Who could have imagined he’d be this fantastic.
KLAY IS A MOOD pic.twitter.com/ICqWnvWtfK— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) March 9, 2019
Thompson scored a game-high 39 points on 13-of-22 shooting, including 9-of-11 from beyond the arc. He played 35 minutes and finished a team-best plus-30.
Wasting no time, Thompson scored a team-high 10 points in the first quarter and came back in the second with 17. His 27-point first half, on 9-of-13 shooting, including 6-of-7 from deep, amounted to a foot on the necks of the Nuggets.
In 19 first-half minutes, Thompson also found time to record two steals and block the shot of Nikola Jokic, Denver’s 7-foot center.
When Thompson is this hot, it has a devastating effect on opponents.
Furious work of Hamptons 5
The Warriors owned a 50-46 lead when Draymond Green replaced Kevon Looney with 3:09 left in the first half. The Hamptons 5 – Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala, Thompson and Green – were called upon once again to close a half.
They vaporized the Nuggets, going on a 17-4 run in less than three minutes to give the Warriors a 67-50 halftime lead.
While Denver finished the half with five consecutive misses and two turnovers, the Warriors closed it out with 6-of-6 shooting from the field, including four triples.
The Nuggets made several brief runs, getting as close as eight (80-72, 3:43 left in the third quarter), but the separation created over the final three minutes of the half was enough to carry the Warriors to the finish.
The Hamptons 5 remains, when fully engaged, the Warriors’ best defensive squad.
Still too many gifts
Playing with desire throughout, the Warriors didn’t lack for effort. They did, however, make enough mistakes to prevent a sheer and utter blowout.
The Warriors committed 17 turnovers, giving Denver 29 points. Most of the miscues were of the live-ball variety and were the result of sloppy or poorly conceived passes.
Insofar as the Nuggets’ leading scorers, Malik Beasley and Monte Morris, each put in 17 points, it could be said that P. O. Turnovers was their leading scorer.
Curry led the giveaway foundation, committing six turnovers. Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins each committed three. Durant was the only starter without a turnover.
The Warriors, this time, didn’t pay a price for their errors. Well, other than not being able to empty their bench until 2:05 remained.