SAN FRANCISCO ( Associated Press) – Stephen Curry came off the bench for a second straight game and showed he is finally healthy, scoring 34 points to lead the Golden State Warriors past the Denver Nuggets 126-106 on Monday night for a lead of 2-0 in their best-of-seven playoff series.
Nikola Jokic had 26 points and 11 rebounds before being sent off with 7 minutes left to a second technique and was held back by a referee after his first technical was 2:31 left in the third. The MVP candidate’s emotions ran high all night. In the first quarter, Gary Payton II, the Golden State guard, beat Jokic in the back and the big man turned around and came to Payton when Curry stepped in and held back the 7-footer and came to help Poole.
Jordan Poole started again for Curry and contributed 29 points – only missing a chance to become the first Warriors player ever to score 30 in his first two playoff games.
Klay Thompson added 21 points while Curry shot 12 for 17 with five 3s as Denver again had no answer on defense for all of the Warriors’ dangerous threats.
The series moves to Denver for Game 3 on Thursday night.
The Warriors are rolling with the support of a noisy home crowd, winning their seventh in a row overall after a five-game winning streak to end the regular season.
Golden State used 16-0 and 23-4 runs late in the second quarter to erase a 43-31 deficit and take a 57-51 lead at halftime. On a particularly brilliant series, Draymond Green bounced a pass back to Poole who threw it behind his back at Thompson for a plant that made it 54-47. Green’s defense put Jokic in the wheel again.
Austin Rivers grabbed his left hip and went down hard after being injured on a ride, after which Thompson hit a jumper on the other side in the 5-on-4 advantage before Rivers finished with 10:04 left in the second quarter. went out. He returned with 46.7 seconds left in the half.
The Nuggets led 43-31 on Monte Morris’ lineup at the 7:25 mark of the second quarter and the Warriors responded with 16 straight points. The Chase Center crowd went crazy on Poole’s 3 with 3:38 left.
Curry entered for the first time at the 6:32 mark of the first for a roaring ovation and immediately struck a jumper. With 16 points in the first half, he became the 27th player in NBA history to record 3,000 career post-season points.
He showed a whole range of moves, including driving with zeal to the basket and making a 3-pointer while falling to the ground.
Denver took a 7-0 lead 90 seconds into the game when Jokic made four quick free throws. But the teams combined to start 6 for 21 with three field goals each – and the Warriors were 1 for 7 on 3s.
Golden State missed veteran Andre Iguodala, the 2015 NBA Finals MVP, who was sitting with neck spasms after playing just over 13 minutes in the series opener.
It was the first time he, Curry, Green and Thompson had played together all season.
Nuggets: Jokic shot 9 for 20 and missed all eight of his 3-point tries in two games. … Denver was planning to inquire at the NBA about DeMarcus Cousins’ rugby techniques in Game 1 that led to his suspension with 10:28 left in the game, although coach Michael Malone would not provide details on whether the Nuggets have indeed spoken to the league and said he would keep any such discussions private. Cousins scored five consecutive points in one second quarter. … Denver once again committed expensive revenue, leading to 18 to 25 Warriors points – something Malone stressed could not happen.
Warriors: Curry, Poole and Thompson combined to go 31 for 52 off the floor with 13 3s. … While the Warriors had a 41-35 setback advantage in the series opener, Denver led 47-35 on Monday. … Golden State is 17-4 in Match 2 of the playoffs dating back to the 2015 title race when the franchise won its first championship in 40 years. … The Warriors planned to take off Tuesday and practice in San Francisco on Wednesday before flying to Denver.
Malone about the Nuggets who need to improve communication in Game 2: “It was definitely addressed during the game, yesterday, this morning. The good thing is that when it’s awful, it can usually not be awful anymore, so there’s only one way it can go. ”
More Associated Press NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports