It wasn't Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, or even Corey Maggette (sidelined with a left hamstring strain).
It was a factor that head coach Don Nelson has been avoiding—bench play.
Tonight, the Golden State Warriors defeated the Denver Nuggets with a 111-101 score for their second win of the season. Jackson had 29 points and seven assists, while Kelenna Azubuike had 22 points to go with his eight rebounds.
Surprise player Brandan Wright had a career high 18 points and 13 rebounds.
This wasn't all, though. Nellie went on to even spare Jackson some minutes and insert forgotten sharpshooter Marco Belinelli for the last two minutes of the third quarter. Belinelli even hit a jump shot!
It still doesn't stop there. C.J. Watson, who came off the bench tonight, played for most of the game, scoring 14 points to go with his four rebounds and four assists.
The Warriors' bench emphatically outscored the Nuggets' bench, 63-22.
The Nuggets came out the locker room and torched the Warriors with an 18-point lead. The fans were on the verge of booing the team and heading home, but the Warriors made a brief first-quarter comeback.
The first quarter ended with a 35-28 lead for the Nuggets. DeMarcus Nelson, the undrafted rookie starting for the Dubs, was replaced by Watson, and didn't see any playing time afterward. He was not seen on the Warriors' bench throughout the whole game.
Jackson, again, guarded the opposing team's best player in Carmelo Anthony, and performed tremendously, putting Anthony's offensive explosiveness to a temporary halt.
Watson was also tremendous in tonight's game, as he quite strongly put it forth that he was the best option at point guard for the Dubs.
Wright had an breakout game. He's not a flashy player, as the fans are starting to acknowledge, but Wright quietly but stoutly has an effect on the offense and defense. He made a monster play at the end of the game by blocking Kenyon Martin's jump shot.
Andris Biedrins, who fouled out for the second time this season, extended his double-double run with 12 points and 11 boards. He entered the second half with four fouls.
Ronny Turiaf had a great energizing game tonight, blocking a critical shot in the third quarter to give the Warriors a lead entering the final 12 minutes of regulation.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect about this game, was the fans. It was remarkable witnessing the fans cheer on their home team, even in the most critical situations.
The Warriors improved their record to 2-3, and host the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday at Oracle Arena.
Again though, Marcus Williams was in a suit tonight. Would it really hurt playing him, Nellie?
By the way, the Warriors are a man down with Harrington in the ball game. Shipping him out would meet the inevitable.
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