Warriors withstand Curry's re-injury, fend off Nuggets in OT

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The Golden State Warriors' Saturday night visit from the Denver Nuggets started off about as well as the team could have hoped. With Stephen Curry back in the starting lineup after missing two games with a left leg contusion, the Warriors took the first quarter 37-13 behind 20 points from Draymond Green, himself fresh off a triple-double. Despite entering the game with only nine healthy players, Golden State looked set for a blowout victory with extended garbage time.

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A quality second quarter from Denver made it marginally competitive by halftime, but the state of the game changed for good in the final minutes of the first half when Curry re-injured his leg after a slight collision with Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried. Take a look at the play here:

Curry was subbed out with 2:15 remaining in the second quarter, left to the locker room for treatment, and did not return with what the team described as a left leg bruise. Post-game comments from Curry and interim head coach Luke Walton indicated that the re-injury is not believed to be serious, but it would not be a surprise to see him miss Monday's game vs. his hometown Charlotte Hornets. Curry himself even believes that will be the case:

Regardless of the severity, the injury left the Warriors with eight players, including three centers, to hold onto a 63-47 halftime lead. They ended up needing every bit of that sizable advantage as the Nuggets dominated the fourth quarter 25-12 and forced overtime on this bucket from early Most Improved Player candidate Will Barton with 0.9 seconds remaining:

That clip shows much of what made the Nuggets a handful for the Warriors in the second half. Versatile wings like Barton (21 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists in 50 minutes) and Danilo Gallinari (24 points on 9-of-18 FG) provided matchup problems while Faried (nine offensive rebounds) and others crashed the class to create copious second-chance opportunities to control tempo and challenge the undermanned Warriors to go bigger than they usually like. At the other end, the Golden State offense saw many possessions end in errant jumpers from Klay Thompson (26 points on 11-of-27 shooting) and his teammates. Golden State scored all of six points in the final 7:40 of regulation, played the last 3:40 with seven players after Andrew Bogut's foul-out, and was arguably lucky to make it to overtime at all.

Yet the Nuggets encountered their own offensive issues in the extra period, scoring just six points before Thompson converted what ended up as the game-winning lay-up with 15 seconds on the clock:

A scary neck injury to Faried on that play took him off the floor for the final possessions. Barton missed a jumper to tie with six seconds left, but the Nuggets got another chance after Thompson split free throws to make it a mere three-point lead. The Warriors did not foul but forced Barton into a tricky attempt at the buzzer that missed badly. The 111-108 win keeps the Warriors' home record perfect at 16-0 and extends their streak of 83 straight wins in games in which they held a lead of at least 15 points.

However, this victory should come as some cause for concern, because the Warriors looked flat-out average as soon as Curry left the floor. Part of those difficulties can be explained by the surprise of losing the reigning MVP in the middle of a game already being played with a short bench, but the best team in the league still looked very bad in the fourth quarter. If Curry does indeed miss the Hornets game, then the Warriors will have to hope some rotation players return to provide help for Thompson and Green.

To his credit, though, Green has only reinforced his individual strengths in Curry's absence over these past three games. While his first-quarter scoring onslaught came with Curry on the court, Green put up his second-straight triple-double and league-leading sixth of the season with 29 points (a season-high), 17 rebounds (another season-high), and 14 assists. He's now a shoo-in for an All-Star spot and can entertain the idea of an All-NBA First Team appearance. Last season's Defensive Player of the Year runner-up has made great strides at the offensive end and animates the Warriors' versatility at both ends. He's not just a great fit for the team's system — his growing skills are constructing the team's plans in real time. If Curry misses more time, then there's no question which player takes his spot as the most important Warrior on the floor.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!