“Strength in Numbers” was Golden State Warriors’ playoff motto last season as they marched to the NBA title. “Making History” might be this year’s slogan as they attempt to repeat as champions.
With Sunday’s 118-105 victory over the Denver Nuggets, Golden State matched the 1948-49 Washington Capitols (profiled by Hardwood Paroxysm) and the 1993-94 Houston Rockets for the best start in NBA history. The Warriors improved to 15-0, setting a new mark for the fastest start by a defending champion.
“It’s awesome,” Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton said. “Those guys deserve it. They play the right way. They are unselfish. They have fun and you can see the joy that they have when they play basketball. So for teams like that to have success is great. We just congratulated them on it after the game. We’ll try to go break it next game.”
Klay Thompson led the attack with 21 points and a season-high seven assists. Stephen Curry scored 19 points in just 27 minutes. Harrison Barnes had 17 points and three steals. Draymond Green finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Andre Iguodala added 12 points and four steals off the bench.
Golden State shot 52.8 percent from the field and 51.7 percent from 3-point range. They had 35 assists on 47 field goals. All 12 Warriors in action scored at least four points.
“It was a great team win tonight,” Walton said. “Everybody that played scored while they were in. We had 35 assists, but still had too many turnovers (21). It was just an all-around great team win.”
Darrell Arthur started for an injured Kenneth Faried and led Denver (6-8) with a season-high 21 points. Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton scored 19 points apiece. Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay had 17 points and eight assists. Nikola Jokic added 11 points, 11 rebounds and two steals.
The Nuggets shot 43 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from beyond the arc. Gallinari and Mudiay struggled all night and shot a combined 10-of-37 (.270).
The only time Golden State was threatened in the game came early in the second quarter. The Nuggets went on a 21-10 run during a six-minute span to turn a 10-point deficit into a one-point lead with 2:19 remaining. Arthur led the charge with 11 points.
The lead for Denver was short-lived as Walton inserted his small-ball lineup. The Warriors responded immediately with a 14-4 run to regain control. Thompson scored 11 points during the run. He splashed a trio of 3-pointers and assisted on another from Barnes. Curry had three assists and a steal.
With three-tenths of a second left, Barton was fouled by Thompson on a wild 3-point shot that had no chance. He converted the free-throws to help the Nuggets close the gap to six points at halftime.
Denver would not get any closer in the second half. With the bench playing so well and extended the lead to 21 in the fourth quarter, Walton gave extended rest to Curry and Andrew Bogut. Curry sat out the last 13:43. Bogut did not return after leaving with 5:06 left in the third quarter.
The Warriors will attempt to make history on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena. The opponent will be Kobe Bryant and the 2-11 Los Angeles Lakers. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:40 p.m. PST and will be televised on TNT.
The road to 73:
2015-16 Golden State Warriors 15-0
1995-96 Chicago Bulls 13-2