By Rob Johnson
Special to S.F. Examiner
DENVER — The Golden State Warriors set an NBA record by scoring 51 points in a quarter on Tuesday, posting the number in the first quarter of a 142-111 win over the Denver Nuggets.
“I don’t remember a better first quarter,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “that was a firework show.”
Golden State finished the night going 21-for-39 on 3-pointers, out-rebounding the Nuggets 50 to 36, posting 38 assists and only committing just 10 turnovers throughout the blowout, climbing to the top of the Western Conference by beating a team molded in their image.
“It’s beautiful, beautiful basketball,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “I just like the way our guys moved the ball, a lot of shot-fakes, playing with purpose, playing with a simple sort of style and execution, but aggressive at the same time … Finding that balance is what we’re looking for and that was as good as it gets for us tonight.”
The Nuggets (29-14) had five scorers in double-digits, two players score over 20 points (Malik Beasely with 22, Jamal Murray with 21) and only had eight turnovers. On any other night that typically would have been enough to win a game, but the Warriors aren’t your typical opponent.
With only a half game separating Golden State (30-14) and Denver atop the Western Conference, the Warriors set the tone early. Active hands on defense and playoff-like energy got Golden State off to a 11-2 start, with the tenth and eleventh points being capped off by a Klay Thompson dunk (his first of four on the night). After that, the Warriors went on a historic run, helping them achieve the scoring record by way of setting another NBA record — making 10 3-pointers in the quarter.
Kevin Durant finished the game with 27 points on 11-for-15 shooting, but his first quarter outing sparked the high-scoring affair. He had 17 points in the opening period by going a perfect 7-of-7 on field-goals, including 3-of-3 from downtown, and all while dishing out five assists.
“It was our attacks,” Durant said. “They led into drives, led into getting in the paint, and once we got to the paint, they converged and we started kicking it out.”
With the record-setting night, and both Thompson and Curry having a game-high 31 points — shooting a combined 13-for 21 from long-range — the locker room buzz after the game was all about Thompson’s four dunks.
“It felt great, I don’t think I’ve ever done that in a game since high school,” Thompson said. “It felt better than those 10 three’s to be honest.”
Thompson has an ongoing joke/bet with former teammate Zaza Pachulia on who will get the most dunks this season, and Pachulia texted him after the game.
“[He] said he’s never seen me have four dunks,” Thompson said, right before he found out he had an 11-1 edge over Pachulia in dunks this year, and proceeded to read his text message aloud. “Really? I’m going to text him that right now: ‘You have 1 dunk this year, I have 11. Pay me.’”
Draymond Green facilitated the offense all night and helped keep the throttle pinned finishing up with 13 assists to just one turnover.
“This was a damn good one and the best one we’ve had in a while,” said Green. “It was a great [first] quarter, but more importantly we sustained it the entire game … You can have a great quarter, but if you don’t keep that same focus level and same energy it doesn’t matter.”