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Warriors final score: 116 - 102 as they blast the Denver Nuggets out of Oracle despite Durant ejection

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Golden State was too much for Denver, solidifies position atop the heap as season winds down

Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors

So it’s not all decided yet, but Golden State now controls their own destiny, and just handed a big, heavy “L” to the Denver Nuggets.

While it wasn’t quite wire-to-wire, the Golden State Warriors absolutely dominated the Denver Nuggets at home to essentially seal their rightful place atop the West. DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant both looked unstoppable, and the Golden State defense once again took Nikola Jokic out of the game as the home team cruised to an easy victory over the team that’s been chasing them in the standings all season.

After slipping a bit in the early going, the Warriors came back in the second quarter and never let up - pushing the Denver Nuggets into a XX point loss that didn’t feel as close as that final score would indicate.

DeMarcus Cousins finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and tremendous defense against Nikola Jokic, effectively ripping the heart and soul out of Denver’s offense.

Paul Milsap led all Nuggets scorers with 11 in the first quarter, but was blanked out in the 2nd. Jokic couldn’t really get going all night - and the Nuggets didn’t seem to have help from anywhere else. It was DeMarcus Cousins in the first quarter, Kevin Durant in the second, and then the Warriors collective fury at the referees in the final two frames. Just way, WAY too much for Denver.

It wasn’t just that Kevin Durant had 17 points and 6 assists at halftime, it was a soul-crushingly dominant performance that made this game feel pretty much over at halftime.

Sadly, Durant was not long for the game. less than four minutes into the second half, tensions boiled over between the referees and the Warriors. Durant, upset at a non-call on the offensive end, continued to chirp at a ref as action made it’s way to the other end of the floor. He was assessed a technical foul, which seemed to irk Durant even more, which irked the ref more... and then:

I’m no lip reading expert, but I think Durant said some not so nice things to that man!

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were somewhat overshadowed, the Warriors turned the ball over a little too much, and none of it mattered because this team is so talented.

FIRST QUARTER

In the early going, Paul Milsap had 9 of Denver’s 14 points to start the game. The Warriors somehow managed to collect a bunch of fouls in the opening quarter, but neither team could get much separation.

Denver was living off Paul Milsap’s offense, and a bunch of offensive rebounds - but the Warriors defense was keyed in early (see above point about lots of fouls), here is one of two blocks Durant had early.

But it was DeMarcus Cousins who played with the most urgency. In one instance, he stripped the ball from Jokic and ran it all the way back to finish with a sensible layup that had Jim Barnett stroking his mustache in approval.

Most importantly, it felt like Jokic just couldn’t cover Cousins. Though Denver was murdering us with offensive rebounds the Warriors ended the first quarter with a six point lead.

35% shooting for Denver as they were stymied by an engaged and effective Warriors defense. You never know what you’ll get, so the early focus was comforting.

Warriors 30 - Denver 24 at the end of the first.

SECOND QUARTER

This was where Kevin Durant made his impact felt. He’s recently made news because of his deferential play, but tonight, he was out there to do direct damage. He facilitated to start the game, but once Cousins sat, Durant got hotter than a hot stove.

The teams ran right back into it to start the second. It will be interesting to see the pace on this game because both teams were tearing up and down the court with the abandon of Kevin Durant in an anonymous internet chat.

One of the more interesting things to watch as teams play each other as often as the Warriors and Denver is the emerging matchups that each side chases. After each team reviews films and game plans, they tend to come at certain players. Quinn Cook was definitely getting targeted by the Nuggets guards. this may not be the matchup for him. He’s still shooting well enough to be a net positive, but he’ll need to offset his defensive disadvantage by scoring a lot if he wants to see playoff minutes against the Nuggets.

Shaun Livingston, however, has enough size to be a factor on the block on either end of the court.

The Warriors managed to extend their 6 point lead all the way out to a massive 16 point lead on an 18 to 9 run to end the quarter. So many Kevin Durant power dunks, great hustle from everyone, and a bunch of gritty defense (5 steals and 7 blocks for the Warriors at the half - to go along with 20 assists before halftime.

HALFTIME!

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Our slack chat was appropriately impressed

THIRD QUARTER

More Warriors dominance, until disaster struck wearing it’s all too familiar black and white striped uniform. With just about eight and a half minutes left in the third, and a 19 point lead, Warriors star Kevin Durant got two extremely quick technical fouls and was ejected from the game.

Still, the Warriors were too much for the Nuggets, even without Durant. Keeping Denver at arms length, Golden State finished the third quarter with a 22 point lead.

FOURTH QUARTER

That was pretty much the game. The Warriors continued to outplay the Nuggets. Even without the firepower of Durant, the Warriors attack was too much for Denver. They couldn’t close the gap, and we entered garbage time fairly early.