Steph Curry Drops 32, Leads Warriors to Crucial Win over Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorApril 24, 2021

Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, left, shoots against Denver Nuggets' Paul Millsap at an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Friday, April 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn)
Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

The Golden State Warriors defeated the visiting Denver Nuggets 118-97 on Friday at San Francisco's Chase Center.

Five Warriors scored in double digits, with Stephen Curry posting 25 of his game-high 32 points in the second half. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting off the bench, and Draymond Green contributed 19 assists and 12 rebounds.

Denver center Nikola Jokic had a relatively quiet night for his lofty standards, posting 19 points, six rebounds and six assists. Michael Porter Jr.'s 26 points led the team. Denver shot just 13-of-46 from three-point range.

Golden State led by four at halftime but took a 12-point lead in the fourth after outscoring Denver 32-24. A Jordan Poole buzzer-beating three-pointer capped that effort. The Dubs scored another 32 in the final 12 minutes to run away with this one.

Golden State Warriors @warriors

Now THAT'S how you close a quarter 🎯 #BigShot https://t.co/8d1rqaxCT0

The 38-21 Nuggets' four-game win streak snapped with the loss. The 30-30 Warriors have won six of their last eight games.


Notable Performances

Warriors PG Stephen Curry: 32 points, 8 rebounds

Warriors F Kelly Oubre Jr.: 23 points, 6 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks

Warriors F Draymond Green: 2 points, 19 assists, 12 rebounds

Nuggets C Nikola Jokic: 19 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds

Nuggets F Michael Porter Jr.: 26 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks

Nuggets F Aaron Gordon: 17 points, 6 rebounds


Balanced Scoring, Gritty Effort Put Warriors Back at .500

The eight members of the Warriors rotation fell in one of two camps on Friday.

The first group carried the offensive load, with five players scoring 14 or more points. As a unit, they were particularly efficient, shooting 54.3 percent from the field (38-of-70). They also hit timely buckets, like Poole's three-pointer or Curry's three to kick-start a 7-0 third quarter run. The five players in this category were Curry, Oubre, Mychal Mulder, Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole.

Curry notably scored 12 of the Warriors' 32 third-quarter points anyway, and his floater game was on point:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Steph too nice with it 🔥 (via @warriors) https://t.co/OPKPWnf5Tw


That's a lot of arc on the floater, Steph. 4Q underway on ESPN https://t.co/gPUNYIy4mA

He did this despite leaving the game in the first quarter. Trainers looked at his right foot on the sidelines before they went back to the locker room. Curry returned, however, to lead the Warriors to a win thanks to a dominant second half.

Elsewhere, Mulder (14 points) delivered a big game, with this dunk serving as his highlight:

Golden State Warriors @warriors

wayyyy up @MychalMulder || #DubNation https://t.co/9Nof7rEqwa https://t.co/VRqjXrHLs1

Oubre also notably did work on both ends, with five combined steals and blocks. He got way up for this stuff in particular:

Golden State Warriors @warriors

Kelly said nahhhh 📺 @NBCSAuthentic https://t.co/aMt6EMFV8U

The second group did a ton of dirty work, fighting for rebounds, playing tremendous defense and promoting excellent ball movement.

This trio, consisting of Kevon Looney, Draymond Green and Juan Toscano-Anderson, combined for 28 rebounds and 26 assists. As a team, Golden State had 40 assists on 45 made buckets.

The bigs also helped kept Denver, which scored 21.5 fewer points than its season average, in check.

Golden State also clearly won the battle of the boards, dominating the glass, 58-44. The Warriors scored 50 points in the paint to Denver's 30, and they were able to get out on the fast break due to their defensive rebounding, outscoring the Nuggets 29-12 in that category.

Overall, it was an excellent night for the Warriors, with all eight players contributing to the win.


Nuggets, Without Murray and Barton, Can't Find Rhythm

Credit to Denver for going 4-0 since point guard Jamal Murray suffered a torn ACL against Golden State on April 12. Murray averaged 21.2 points and 4.8 assists this year, and replacing that production is a Herculean task.

That's in addition to the fact that Murray has established a reputation as a stone-cold, late-game killer after last year's playoffs, and his leadership has helped catapult Denver into a top-four spot in the Western Conference.

Denver got along fine without him somehow to start, but the Nuggets clearly missed his presence Friday. Rookie point guard Facundo Campazzo struggled with seven points on 1-of-8 shooting along with five fouls, and he finished at minus-20. No player outside the Jokic-Porter-Gordon trio scored in double-digits, and Denver made just 6-of-32 three-pointers sans Porter's efforts.

Playing without Murray got even harder when Will Barton suffered a right hamstring strain in the first minute and did not return. Barton had averaged 12.9 points per game entering Friday and notably exploded for 28 in a win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday. Without him on the court, the Nuggets became particularly depleted outside the frontcourt, making their job even harder.

In the end, Denver simply didn't have enough firepower on offense, and the defense could not stop the Warriors' smooth, balanced attack. At full strength, the Nuggets are one of the NBA's best teams, but they'll now look to regroup as the playoffs loom in one month.


What's Next?

Golden State will host the Sacramento Kings on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET. Denver will return home to Ball Arena to welcome the Houston Rockets on Saturday at 10 p.m.