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What I Saw …

Observations from the Nuggets game:

* The Warriors are so much better when Nelson uses his bench. It’s not just because they were at home that it worked, too. The Warriors’ key players had juice in their legs at the end, even without Maggette and Al Harrington. Jackson worked his way to the line for 10 free throws in the second half instead of only jacking up shots (he did chuck his fair share).

* Out of nowhere, PG C.J. Watson got 42 minutes of action off the bench: 14 points (7-for-16), 4 assists, five rebounds and two steals. The starter, DeMarcus Nelson, played just over six minutes and had four points. DeMarcus wasn’t hurt, it’s just one of those Nellie whims. He rode Watson Wednesday night. Friday, Watson might see six minutes. Or, did Watson just become the starter and the Nelson experiement is over. Is it a coincidence the Warriors scored a season-high with Watson getting the bulk of the minutes? Is Watson’s ability to nab a few steals enough to sit Nelson, who is the better defender? Is his offense that much better than Nelsons?

* Marco Belinelli needs more time. I know, his defense is suspect, and he doesn’t rebound. But he can change the course of the game. He is a legitimate long threat. Him being on the court prevents teams from sagging off. Who else on this team makes the defense say “I can’t leave him”? Marco got 4 minutes and made 1 of 2. He should be getting like 10. If he catches fire for a stretch, it can literally change the game. That’s worth some playing time.

* Andris Biedrins and Brandan Wright each played 32 minutes and combined for three blocks (five by Biedrins). Turiaf got 2. And Anthony Randolph seems to be a good shot blocker. Look out! The Warriors can protect the basket now.

* Though Azubuike is playing some good ball right now, I think it’s a good move to keep him off the bench. Even if Maggette is out for an extended period of time, Azubuike still should ne a sub. Not only does he give the Warriors legitimate scoring punch off the bench, but I think he’s more comfortable in this role. His issues are consistency, so he doesn’t need to go in and out of the lineup. He needs to develop a rhythm and get comfortable. Putting him in the starting lineup, even because of injury, may put too much pressure on him and could ruin his peace of mind. He also can’t be a primary focus of the defense if he’s coming off the bench. He had 22 points, 8 rebounds, a career-high 4 assists in 43 minutes as a reserve. He’s feeling good right now. Switching him around too much might disrupt that.

Marcus Thompson