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Warriors go on the offensive, dominate Nuggets to even the series

Apr 24, 2013, 2:09 AM EDT

Golden State Warriors v Denver Nuggets - Game Two Getty Images

The Warriors had a lot of questions surrounding them heading into this game.

How would they adjust to playing without David Lee? Who would start in his place? Would Stephen Curry find his offense? Would anyone else step up?

In order, they answered those accordingly: not much, Jarrett Jack, YES, and YES.

The Warriors put on a clinic in this game, running circles around the Nuggets by shooting an astonishing 64.6% from the field and claiming a 131-117 win to tie up the series at one game a piece.

The star of the night was easily Curry who, after starting out slowly (again), found his stroke from all over the floor to terrorize the Denver defense. Curry hit all variety of shots — step back jumpers from behind the arc, pull ups from mid-range, and even nifty finishes at the rim. He finished with a game high 30 points on 13-23 shooting, including 9 of his 13 shots from inside the arc.

But just as important as Curry’s scoring was his ability to set up his teammates. He also tallied 13 assists, getting the rest of his guys going to help trigger the onslaught that Denver simply didn’t have an answer for.

Three other Warriors besides Curry had at least 20 points in this game, led by Jarrett Jack’s 26 points (10-15 shooting) and rookie Harrison Barnes‘ 24 points (9-14 shooting). Add that to Klay Thompson‘s 21 points on 11 shots (including 5-6 from behind the arc) and the Warriors’ perimeter players overwhelmed the Nuggets all night.

Barnes’ performance was especially impressive in this game, not just because he’s rookie, but more so because of the versatility he showed in scoring the ball. He not only hit from the outside, but was also able to knock down mid-range shots while showing a fantastic ability to finish at the rim. He had several highlight level plays, including a two handed reverse dunk on Anthony Randolph that left the Denver crowd stunned and his teammates celebrating.

Those finishes at the rim were indicative of a second half that had Denver head coach George Karl scrambling for defensive answers that never came. With the Warriors doing so much damage from the wing, Karl elected to play a small lineup for most of the final 24 minutes, only playing Kosta Koufos a shade over three minutes and JaVale McGee a little over four minutes. Instead Karl turned to Anthony Randolph and Kenneth Faried as his big men, but both struggled to protect the rim. Faried, returning from injury, looked particularly sluggish and not yet back in game form, lacking his normal burst and athleticism around the basket on either end of the floor.

The Warriors took full advantage of that lack of size, running pick and rolls that allowed them to attack the paint and then finishing with ease once there. Golden State hit 12 of their 14 shots in the restricted area in that second half, which only led to the Nuggets over-helping once the ball got close to the rim, allowing the Warriors to kick the ball out to wide open shooters behind the arc. The formula was simplistic, but highly effective and all the Nuggets could do was watch as their home court advantage got washed away in the tide of made Warriors buckets.

Meanwhile, even though the Nuggets scored 117 points, they have to question if their approach is going to get it done over the course of this series. Denver only scored 8 fast break points in this game and couldn’t find many ways to generate the frenetic pace they love to play at. The Warriors cut off the Nuggets’ fast break attack wonderfully by consistently sending three players back on defense, trading offensive rebounding chances for better transition defense.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets were just the opposite, sending three (and sometimes four) players to the offensive glass on too many possessions and allowing the Warriors to run out for fast break chances in the process. The Warriors didn’t take advantage of these chances often, but they did get some timely baskets on run-outs; baskets that enabled them to maintain and/or extend the lead at crucial parts of the game.

Through two games in this series it’s not a stretch to say that the Warriors have clearly been the better team. They only lost game one by a single last second basket, but blew the doors off the Nuggets in game two. The Warriors look more poised and seem to have a better game plan through two games. And now head back to what will surely be a raucous Oracle Arena in Oakland to try and carry over momentum and seize control of the series.

On a night that started with so many questions for the Warriors, it’s now the Nuggets that have some searching to do. And if they can’t find some answers quickly, they may find themselves on the wrong end of first round upset.

  1. badintent - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:17 AM

    Without Lee and Curry turning an ankle, this is very impressive. Karl needs to play McGee major minutes for some paint Defense or Nuggets going away in 5. You know Curry will find a way to get his 25-30, it’s the rest of the team that really stepped. Mark Jackson had a great game plan , proving he was a better player AND coach that Jeff the Wesel Gundy

  2. Rich Peters - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    Reblogged this on Higher Ground.

    • spthegr8 - Apr 24, 2013 at 8:24 AM

      Dear Rich,
      PLEASE GET A LIFE!!!! We get it, we get it. It’s all reblogged. I don’t think you get it. NOBODY CARES BUT YOU!!!!!!
      Now back too basketball. Marc Jackson BETTER get coach of the year.

      • nineroutsider - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:35 PM

        These reblogging messages are useless to us, but he does them strictly for SEO purposes (read in your best NY accent).

      • Kurt Helin - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:46 PM

        Actually I don’t approve them, WP just puts them in. I couldn’t care less.

      • nineroutsider - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        Kurt, I meant its good SEO for the guy posting the link. It does precious little for you except perhaps steal a little traffic. It’s good link juice for him though.

  3. livingsacrifice86 - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:29 AM

    This series will be decided by whichever team passes out first

  4. gmsingh - Apr 24, 2013 at 7:42 AM

    Almost 250 pts. scored? The ABA lives!

  5. bifford - Apr 24, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Does the Ewing theory apply is Lee wasn’t their best player?

  6. bucrightoff - Apr 24, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    Not sure Ewing theory could possible apply. More like the Warriors became the first team since 1991 to shoot 65% in a postseason game theory. Can’t even remember when the last time that happened period. Impressive shooting display.

  7. nodindenver - Apr 24, 2013 at 9:04 AM

    Nuggets defense was despicable. They had better get a handle on it quickly or it will be time to get the golf clubs out. They looked lost and kept people up late with poor effort. With Lee’s injury, you would of thought by listening to the local sports talk morons, that this series was over. Unfortunately, they spoke the same rubbish last year before we played the Ravens in another sport. Overconfidence leads to smack downs and that is what the Nuggets got!

    • 4thquartermagic - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:50 PM

      Nothing can compare to the Broncos losing to the Ravens on a hail mary. Ugh that loss will sting for years.

      This game wasn’t loss due to overconfidence by the Nuggets, it was lost due to confidence in the jumper by everyone wearing a Golden State jersey.

      64.6% shooting is ridiculous.

      The Nuggets shot 55% which on any other night would be enough to have a shot at winning.

      • nodindenver - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:53 PM

        We must have watched a somewhat different game. There were shots that were made with a hand in the face but, there were also shots where a defender was at high speed lunging out and appearing as though they were trying to catch up to the play. If you are running running in circles with a top-notch shooting team, 58-60% is not out of the question Friday night.

      • 4thquartermagic - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:34 PM

        Agreed. If Denver can’t execute pick-and-roll defense to contest wide open jumpers, Golden State will continue to hit open jump shots.

        However, hitting 14 of 25 threes (56%) is unlikely. Even if you get good looks, it’s hard to hit 3’s consistently.

        Look at it this way, if Golden State shot their season average (40%) form 3-point range, that would’ve meant 12 less points and a much closer game.

  8. savvybynature - Apr 24, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    Would LOVE to see the Warriors make this a series even without Lee. That said, last night was a statistical shooting anamoly. Curry could do that on any given night, sure, but EVERYONE was just on fire: Barnes, Jack, Thompson and Curry (OK maybe not everyone — Bogut still kinda sucked on offense but they just need him to defend, which he did well). I doubt that happens again.

    I’ll say Nuggets in 6, with a Go Warriors! thrown in.

    • nineroutsider - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:38 PM

      I largely agree, shooting 65% will allow you to beat any team. However, I think the Warriors are going to take the series from the Nuggets in 6 just because the Warriors are a solid defensive team. Curry and Thompson can easily go off again and Denver can’t defend that.

      • 4thquartermagic - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:20 PM

        Solid defensive team is a bit of a stretch. Denver shot 55% and scored 117 in the loss.

        Everything clicked for the Warriors and they got their perfect game. Can they do that 3 more times?

        No way they shoot 65% again in this series.

    • 4thquartermagic - Apr 24, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      Barnes 23 points was the difference in this game.

      Curry, Thompson, and Jack produced as they have all year. (Well maybe a tad better then usual).

      In Game 1 the Nuggets dared Barnes to produce, putting their worst defender (Andre Miller) on him and telling him to roam off of Barnes to help with Lee and co.

      Barnes responded in game 2. If he can continue this level of play the Warriors will win the series. But something tells me he (and the rest of the Warriors) won’t be able to shoot 65% in 4 straight games.

    • herkulease - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      With the exception of Klay who shot 3’s or close to the 3 point line only (if you watch the warriors you know he can be streaky), the Nuggets allowed Barnes and Jack to score literally at the basket. Its hardly an anomaly when you allow pros to shoot that close.

      Jack took about 2-3 shots outside of the key. He attempted 15 total. About half of Barnes made shots were dunks.

  9. jimsjam33 - Apr 24, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    I didn’t expect this , but it is a very nice surprise . Can the Warrior win this series ? Yesterday before the game I didn’t think so . Now , it’s maybe . Bogut needs to step up . He looked awfully slow and his hands must be made of rock . On the defensive side he grabbed rebounds . He must be the ” Johnny One Note ” of basketball .

    • 4thquartermagic - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      Yeah what a difference one game can make.

      Before the series started both teams coaches were strong candidates for “coach of the year.”

      After game 1, some called for Mark Jackson to be fired.
      After game 2 some are calling for George Karl to be fired.

      It’s all about adjustments. Friday will be exciting to watch.

  10. baymac408 - Apr 24, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    4th quarter.. Your good on stats and everything but any one can look those up.. You said warriors would loose before the game started.. Great prediction buddy! Great game like I said everybody has to step up!! NOT JUST STEPH!! Great win!! 4th qtr not hating you have great insight just don’t hate on my team before the game starts pimp!!! GO WARRIORS!!

    • 4thquartermagic - Apr 24, 2013 at 3:10 PM

      I use stats as facts to support my opinions so I don’t sound like just another biased homer.

      But I’ll give props where its due. Golden State executed their style of play to perfection last night without their All-star.

      Can’t take anything away from that.

  11. baymac408 - Apr 24, 2013 at 2:01 PM

    Friday will be in Oakland!! I will be there it will be loud!! I’m excited for a great night of b ball!! WARRIORS PROTECT THIS HOUSE!

  12. baymac408 - Apr 24, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    True true that all is great man.. But the next 2 games are in Oakland.. And it’s playoffs, it will be loud and rambunctious! Really if we Rebound the ball, and put a tighter lid on Lawson.. We will be ok …..especially at home!! We also have to be really physical up front around the rim! GO WARRIORS

    • 4thquartermagic - Apr 25, 2013 at 12:43 PM

      Ha love the enthusiasm .

      One thing though, your team is gonna have to actually miss some shots so there are actual rebounds to go get.

      As a Nuggets fan, I’d welcome those opportunities.

  13. baymac408 - Apr 24, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    Big thing!! we HAVE TO hold it all together in… Ready for it….. The 4th quarter.. Because that’s when the magic happens!

    • badintent - Apr 25, 2013 at 3:23 AM

      Easy there. Your boys are not up 2-0 like Knick Nation.But get your popcorn ready !!

  14. kavika6 - Apr 25, 2013 at 5:28 AM

    I hope these two teams continue to battle this hard. It makes for an entertaining series and will give the Spurs some rest before the next round.

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