Nuggets-Warriors Preview


Even though they were playing so well, the Golden State Warriors were relieved to get a break.

They return from a four-day layoff looking for a 12th win in 13 games Wednesday night when the Denver Nuggets make their first trip to the Bay Area since what turned out to be George Karl's last game as coach.

No team has played more than the Warriors (25-14) even though they haven't taken the court since Friday's 99-97 victory over Boston. That came two nights after a 102-98 loss in Brooklyn ended their 10-game winning streak, as well as a seven-game road trip which spanned 11 days.

"To have a nice four-day period where we can focus on getting rest and getting ready for the next set of games before the All-Star break, especially coming off that East Coast road trip, it was timely," star Stephen Curry said. "Hopefully it shows on Wednesday with fresh legs and kind of a renewed commitment to what we're trying to do."

Golden State, which has played a league-high 23 road games, hadn't enjoyed more than one day off between games since Dec. 4 and 5. David Lee said the busy schedule took a toll on his body and caused him to "take some extra measures" just to play Friday, when his 16 points and 8-of-19 shooting were his worst totals in four weeks.

"I'm happy that we got a little bit of a break," Lee said. "We've played so many games, especially so many road games, it's nice to have a few days to recover especially after getting some wins. It makes it that much better."

Lee averaged 22.7 points on 68.0 percent shooting in the previous seven games. The All-Star hopeful already dominated Denver once this season with 28 points and 10 rebounds in an 89-81 win Dec. 23 in the teams' first matchup since the playoffs.

That series ended in Game 6 at Oracle Arena, with the sixth-seeded Warriors handing the Nuggets their ninth first-round exit in 10 years. Karl was fired less than a week later despite being Coach of the Year.

Brian Shaw replaced him, and the team was in turmoil as the New Year began. Denver (19-18) was riding an eight-game losing streak, and veteran Andre Miller has remained away from the team after yelling at Shaw during a loss to Philadelphia on Jan. 1.

The Nuggets, though, responded with five straight wins until taking a step backward Monday, allowing a season-worst 55.7 percent from the field in a 118-103 loss at Utah.

"Defense for the most part tonight was non-existent," said Shaw, whose team held its previous three opponents to an average of 93.3 points on 39.2 percent shooting.

However, all three of those games were at home. Denver has surrendered 114.0 points and 49.3 percent shooting in its last five road games, losing four.

Golden State has yielded an average of 92.3 points during a four-game home winning streak.

Curry and Ty Lawson each shot 5 of 14 in the first meeting, but the Warriors' leading scorer had seven assists with two turnovers while the Nuggets' top scorer committed five and tied a season low with four assists. While Lawson has averaged 11.6 assists in seven games this month, Golden State is 14-2 when Curry has at least 10.

Curry will soon have a new backup after the Warriors acquired point guard Jordan Crawford along with MarShon Brooks from Boston on Wednesday in a three-team trade. Golden State shipped guard Toney Douglas to Miami in the deal. It's unlikely that Crawford, averaging 13.7 points and 5.6 assists, or Brooks will play in this game.

Andre Iguodala, traded from Denver to the Warriors in July, had 12 points against his former team and is coming off his highest-scoring game in two months with 22 on Friday.

His replacement in Denver's starting lineup, Randy Foye, shot 0 for 5 against the Warriors during a dreadful slump but enters the rematch having scored in double figures in nine straight.