Remember when Steph Curry struggled from the field in Game 1? Yeah, neither do I.
Curry was, as Curry often is, on fire for the entire first half of Game 2 (and ultimately the entire game). The 6-foot-3 combo guard from Davidson went SUPERNOVA in the first half, scoring 17 points and dishing out seven assists. The Warriors, as a whole, came out the gates on fire, taking a 61-53 lead going into halftime, shooting 61 percent from the field and out-rebounding the Nuggets (without David Lee) 21-to-14.
Reports came out 20 minutes before tip off that Golden State would replace injured big man David Lee with bench big man Carl Landry. But Warriors head coach Mark Jackson sent out a small-ball lineup of Jack-Curry-Thompson-Barnes, taking full advantage of Denver’s well documented 3-point defensive woes.
A hobbled Kenneth Faried checked in to the game with just under four minutes left in the first quarter and didn’t look like the Manimal we saw all year. He staggered up and down the floor and struggled to protect the rim. He switched on pick-and-rolls to Steph Curry and Klay Thompson multiple times and was destroyed on the perimeter. That’s not to say that a healthy Faried could have kept up with the speedy Warriors guards, but it highlighted that he wasn’t 100 percent healthy.
Andre Iguodala looked fantastic in the first half. Head coach George Karl said early on Tuesday that he wanted Iguodala to be more aggressive in Game 2, after shooting just four shots in Game 1. Iggy came out on fire, slamming two highlight reel dunks and knocking down two 3-pointers in the first half. He ended the first 24 minutes with 12 points, just one point off his season average.
The Warriors, however, didn’t slow down in the second half. Curry knocked down a pull up jumper off a pick-and-roll to start the second, Thompson nailed a 3-pointer from the right wing in transition and Harrison Barnes knocked down a 3-pointer after Denver lost him in the half court set. The third quarter leveled out, with both teams trading baskets until the Nuggets
caught up and cut the Golden State lead to 10. That’s when, who else, Steph Curry knocked down a corner 3-pointer to extend the Warriors lead to 13. Corey Brewer cut the lead back to 10 and guess what? Curry hit another from downtown. Any time the Nuggets gained momentum or looked poised to make a come back in the 3rd quarter, Curry would cut their throats with a simple flick of his wrist.
With 2:26 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Curry rolled his ankle off a pick-and-roll and hobbled to the sideline accordingly. He began to stretch it with resistance bands but the replay showed an injury that looked unrecoverable. Curry’s injury didn’t slow down the Warriors, though. A wide open Thompson 3-pointer, and a Barnes baseline jumper and transition basket gave Golden State a 96-80 lead heading into the 4th.
Thankfully, Curry’s ankle injury was just a tweak as the star guard started the 4th quarter on the floor for the Warriors. And on the first shot in his return, Curry buried a 3-pointer off a high ball screen by Andrew Bogut. Every time the Nuggets cut the lead down to 10, the Warriors would answer — whether it was Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Carl Landry, Harrison Barnes, Chris Mullin (okay, not Chris Mullin but you get the point).
I think Benjamin Hochman’s tweet just about sums up Game 2:
Golden State shot 64.96 percent from the field. 64.9 percent!! You’re not going to win a game when you’re opponent hits that many open shots. Golden State knocked down 14-of-25 from 3-point range. And that hot shooting opened up the paint, which the Warriors also dominated. The Warriors played fantastic transition defense; often times three or four guys were back on defense when the shot went up — that’s what you have to be conscious of to stop a potent, fast break team like Denver.
It was a bad game for Denver. The Nuggets led 28-26 after the 1st quarter but were out scored 105-to-89 the rest of the way. For the Nuggets, it was the first home loss since Jan. 18. Denver will travel to the Bay Area to take on the Warriors Friday at 10:30 ET on ESPN2.
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