The Warriors didn’t mess around for a minute.
Golden State rolled into Pepsi Center on Tuesday, put their sneakers on the necks of the Denver Nuggets, and keep them there until the Western Conference leaders surrendered.
This 142-111 rout was a show of awesome focus, force, and fury by the defending champs, who left Denver as the new conference leader.
Here are a few of the positives and the closest thing to negative from this tip-to-horn road victory:
Not a hint of complacency
The Warriors won every quarter, the first three fairly decisively. They needed less than four minutes to build a 10-point lead and scored 51 in the quarter. When Denver got within 12 with 2:11 left in the second quarter, the Warriors closed the half with a 7-0 run. Once they went up by 25 with three minutes left in the third, the Nuggets basically retreated. They never got any closer.
For months now, the Warriors have talked and perhaps even dreamt about delivering a 48-minute performance. They nailed it.
Rewriting the record book
The 51 points in the first quarter represent a franchise record and the most any team has scored in the first quarter in the shot-clock era. They drained 10 3-pointers in that quarter, also a franchise record. They made a total of 21 shots from deep, their third consecutive game with at least 18 triples.
Records are made to be broken. But until that happens, they are cool to own.
The KD machine
Kevin Durant scored 27 points – 20 in the first half. He has tallied at least 20 in 31 of his last 32 games. He did it without the benefit of a single free throw, instead shooting 11-of-15 from the field, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc. He added six assists, second only to Draymond Green’s 13. Durant had four rebounds, a block, and a steal.
Ho-hum. This was yet another brilliantly economical performance by a star whose consistent production can sometimes blend into the background.
For Draymond, it’s not about points
Green scored four points, 3 on one shot, a wide-open look from deep. He was 1-of-5 from the field, 1-of-2 from the line. He finished a team-best plus-41. How?
Well, he grabbed 13 rebounds, had six assists and a steal. He played terrific defense and was as responsible as anyone for Nikola Jokic’s all-night discomfort. He was whistled for a technical foul for protesting a call that, from every angle, was questionable.
Green over the last four games shot 4-of-17 from the field. He also posted a cumulative plus-100 during that stretch.
Maybe someday, Jacob
Seldom-used rookie guard Jacob Evans III entered the evening with a total of 13 points. The team’s first-round draft pick has made six shots from the field, never more than one in a game. He played seven minutes, his second-highest total this season, all in the fourth quarter. This was a chance surpass his career-high of three points. He took two shots. He missed both.
The Warriors have invested in Evans and are rooting for him. Nothing would delight him or the team more than to see a couple shots drop through the net.
The rise of Klay
Klay Thompson scored 31 points. Most of them, 23 in fact, came through the normal route. He was 9-of-15 from the field, including 5-of-8 from deep. What stood out, however, were the other 8 points. They came on four dunks, a career-high.
Thompson was so impressed he took time during his postgame media session to text ex-teammate Zaza Pachulia. The two have a running bet over who gets the most dunks each season. Thompson has created a comfortable lead.