Boykins Takes Over as Nuggets Top Warriors
Denver 118, Golden State 112
OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 26 (Ticker) -- Earl Boykins was questionable for Monday's game with a hamstring injury, but his performance in the fourth quarter left no questions to be answered.
Boykins took over midway through the final period en route to 16 huge points off the bench as the Denver Nuggets outgunned the Golden State Warriors, 118-112, in an old-fashioned shootout.
"The first time I've ever seen Earl be a great force was fourth quarters for Golden State a few years ago," Denver coach George Karl said. "I thought I had to rest my bench a little bit, rest my starters some. I put all my little guys out there just to see how it would work and fortunately it worked."
With Denver holding an 87-86 lead with under 11 minutes remaining, Boykins poured in nine straight points to single-handedly bring the lead to double digits. He opened the personal burst with a layup before adding a 3-pointer and a pair of jumpers for a 96-86 lead with 8:42 to go.
"I always feel that the fourth quarter is the easiest part of the game," said Boykins, who made 7-of-12 shots, including 2-of-4 from the arc. "I just let the game come to me. In the first half, I struggled because I was a bit over-aggressive. But then I was relaxed in the second half. I felt I was shooting well. I didn't want to force anything, but I was able to hit some shots."
The Nuggets' lead would grow as high as 109-93 on a 3-pointer by Boykins with 5:41 remaining.
"I always feel like we always have a better chance of winning when I'm able to contribute," Boykins said.
The Warriors fought back, closing to within 116-112 on a layup by Baron Davis with 19 seconds remaining. But Andre Miller scooped up the ball for Denver and unleashed a long outlet pass to Marcus Camby, who threw down a transition dunk with 17 seconds left to restore order.
"We kept up the pace the whole game. I thought we did good in transition," said Carmelo Anthony, who scored 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
Anthony also pointed out that while the Warriors lived by the 3-pointer early, making their first eight attempts, they ultimately were burned by the long-range shots as they connected on just 3-of-11 thereafter to help contribute to the Nuggets' 28-9 advantage in fast-break points.
"They took a lot of threes, they hit a lot of threes," he said. "When you shoot a lot of threes like that, it's going to be long rebounds for us to get our transition game going. We got lost out there for a minute but we came back and settled down and kept our composure and pulled it out at the end."
Miller scored 21 points and dished out 12 assists and Camby chipped in 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who shot a sizzling 60 percent (47-of-78) from the field.
"They shoot 60 percent for the game," said Golden State coach Mike Montgomery, whose team has surrendered at least 100 points in nine of its last 12 games. "We're just having a really hard time defending people right now. Offensively, we did enough things but you can't give up 60 percent. We're just making too many mistakes, too many mental mistakes. It seems every time we do, it just comes back to bite us."
Camby drilled a 3-pointer - his first of the season - at the buzzer of the first quarter to give Denver a 44-37 lead at the end of one period. The Nuggets managed a total of 40 points over the next two quarters, but Miller still was pleased with the team's overall energy level.
"It was fun actually. I didn't think we were going to have that much energy, but we had enough energy to score 40-something points in the first quarter," Miller said.
The 81 combined points are the most scored in the opening session this season. Jason Richardson led the Warriors with 26 points and 12 rebounds. Mike Dunleavy Jr. added 24 points, Troy Murphy 21 and Davis 16 and 11 assists for Golden State, which shot 48 percent (41-of-85) but still dropped its fifth straight game.
Dunleavy, who set a season high for points, believes the Warriors' problems extend further than their performance in games.
"It's not that frustrating because I think we bring it on ourselves," said Dunleavy, who shot 10-of-17 from the field. "I don't think we really focus in at practice and execute well in games. It's all related.
"So, in order to be a really good team, you've got to be a really good team - not only on game night but on days when we've got to practice and listen and do the little things that are required of winning. We're going to beat teams because we're talented but we're not going to beat teams that are in the upper echelon."