Point guard Stephen Curry never found his rhythm, finishing the first half with three points on 1 of 10 shooting. But the Warriors didn’t need him to. They had Klay Thompson and some stifling defense.
Thompson scored 13 of his 15 points in the second quarter. And Golden State held the highest scoring team in the league to 16 points on 5 of 19 shooting in the second quarter, securing a 48-44 Warriors advantage at the half.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson may not be too happy, considering the Warriors didn’t close the quarter strong and squandered most of their nine-point lead. But for Golden State to be leading at the half is certainly a positive sign.
The Warriors trailed 28-25 at the end of the first quarter but took control of the game with a 7-2 run to start the second.
A pair of free throws by Nuggets guard Andre Miller had pushed Golden State’s deficit to five points. But the Warriors’ defense took over the game. Thompson got going with a jumper. Then after an offensive foul by Miller, Lee putback Curry’s missed 3-pointer. After a turnover by Nuggets center JaVale McGee , Curry found Thompson open in the left corner for a 3-pointer. The Warriors led 32-30 with just under 10 minutes left in the half.
Golden State held Denver scoreless for the next four possessions, and Lee got free for a dunk to put the Warriors up 34-30. Their defense didn’t let up, but the Warriors’ offense went on a nearly three-minute drought. A Miller layup and a free throw by Fournier cut Golden State’s lead to 34-33. Curry was trying to get going with his shot, but when he did get a look he missed it. Curry missed his first nine shots.
Fortunately for the Warriors, Thompson was unstoppable. Over a three-minute stretch, facing one-on-one defense, he knocked down four straight jumpers. The last put Golden State up 45-37 with just under three minutes left. The lead grew to 48-39 at the 1:20 mark when Curry finally hit a shot, a 3-pointer from the right side.
Golden State didn’t score the rest of the way, allowing a 5-0 Nuggets run to close the half. McGee threw down a thunderous dunk over Bogut, then Iguodala turned a Curry turnover into a buzzer-beating fast-break layup.
The Warriors have forced nine turnovers thus far and held the Nuggets to 39.5 percent shooting, largely because Bogut (two blocks) is altering shots in the middle. Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler has seven points and 12 rebounds, offsetting Lee’s nine points and nine rebounds. Fournier has nine points on 3 of 8 shooting, playing even with Jack, who has eight points off the bench.
So far, Thompson is the only Warriors’ advantage, and it’s proving to be enough.