Gallinari returns, Faried shines for Nuggets in blowout victory
On the night that the Nuggets celebrated Danilo Gallinari’s return to the court, the Manimal stole the spotlight.
Gallinari was impressive playing with a fractured thumb and Kenneth Faried posted career-highs of 27 points and 17 rebounds as the Nuggets enjoyed a wire-to-wire 123-84 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
Faried dominated in his 24-plus minutes of play and continued his campaign for the NBA All-Rookie first team. With Denver ahead by as many as 41 points in the second half, he did not have a chance to become the first Nuggets rookie since Dikembe Mutombo in 1992 to record a 30-point, 20 rebound game.
“If I had got to 30 and 20, that was one of my goals as a rookie,” Faried said. “I just kept going and going. I was kind of fatigued. I asked Coach to take me out. After that, he didn’t want to put me back in.”
As it was, Faried became the first player – rookie or otherwise – in the shot clock era to score at least 27 points and grab 17 rebounds in 25 minutes or less. He came out late in the third quarter after playing 24:07.
“All I know is tonight, he was the guy with the biggest motor,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “He was probably on a different level than anyone on the floor and he set the tone. We know who he is. We know how he can impact a game. We allowed him to do just that tonight.”
Led by their energetic rookie, the Nuggets were relentless from start to finish. They jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back against a Golden State team that had beaten them twice this season – including a 15-point victory in Oakland 48 hours earlier.
The victory moved the Nuggets (31-26) into a tie with the Dallas Mavericks for the seventh-best record in the West. Both teams are one game behind the sixth-seeded Houston Rockets. Denver plays Houston in a home-and-home set Sunday and Monday.
“Coming back this way was very important for us,” said Gallinari, who scored 15 points and added six assists and five rebounds in his first game since March 19.
“It builds confidence. We know all these games are very important. We have four home games now and we’ve got to try to get all of them. If we get all of them, we have a really good chance to stay in a good position in the playoffs.”
With Gallinari returning after a 10-game absence and the sting of Saturday’s loss still fresh, Nuggets coach George Karl admitted to being pretty tough on his team during a morning film session. In so many words, he implored them to embrace smart, unspectacular basketball built around sound defensive principles and consistent energy at both ends of the floor.
“My whole point was sometimes I think my team tries to be spectacular,” Karl said. “They try to be fancy. They try to be cute. If you play solid, smart basketball, you’ll win a lot of games.
“I don’t know if it was me or the video. The video was pretty ugly, so as I told some of the guys, I don’t usually show negative video, but if I had to watch that Sunday, they had to watch it, (too). The video does not lie. It does not have a voice. It’s just the truth.”
If the truth hurt, the Nuggets made Golden State feel their pain, recording superlatives up and down the box score.
The Nuggets enjoyed their largest margin of victory of the season, the sixth largest in franchise history and the most lopsided ever in their series against Golden State. Denver outrebounded the Warriors 60-27, outscored them 32-9 on the fast break and held a 70-18 advantage in points in the paint.
At one point, Faried had more rebounds (17) than Golden State’s entire team (16).
“I had one point and four rebounds (in Saturday’s game),” Faried said. “That’s not my game at all. I just came out focused and just wanted to send a message that I’m better than what I portrayed the last game. Tonight really helped me get back my focus.”
Faried and the Nuggets were certainly seeing clearly Monday night. If they can carry the momentum into Wednesday night’s home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the playoff picture will start to follow suit.
“Hopefully this is a step forward for us,” Denver forward Al Harrington said. “We’ve shown that we’ve been very inconsistent. We have to start getting in playoff mode and getting to the point where we can execute a game plan.”
NOTES: Seven Nuggets finished in double figures and 11 players scored at least four points. Rookie point guard Julyan Stone did not score but recorded four assists without a turnover … Andre Miller matched a season-high with 12 assists … Arron Afflalo scored 15 points, giving him at least 15 in eight straight games and 11 of the past 12 … The Nuggets had 35 assists and extended their winning streak to 27 games when reaching at least 30 assists ... Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler missed his fifth game in a row after being diagnosed with a left hip strain. Test determined he aggravated an old labral injury. He is listed as day-to-day.