Nuggets get fifth-straight win against Warriors on Christmas Day

Matt Brooks
Writer & Digital Content Specialist

Five straight wins. Two straight Christmas Day victories. The Denver Nuggets are absolutely humming.

Denver took down the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, 120-114. This was Denver's second consecutive Christmas Day win and their first time playing in the primetime 12:30 p.m. MT slot.

"We closed the fourth and we had a lot of guys step up and make timely plays down the stretch of a close game," said head coach Michael Malone. "So, this allows everybody to go home and enjoy the rest of the day with their families and loved ones. Winning makes a world of a difference."

Denver is now on a five-game winning streak. They've won 9 of their last 10 games. Monday's victory sends the Nuggets to 22-10 on the season, good for the second seed in the Western Conference standings. They're also 12-2 at home.

The victory snapped Golden State's five-game winning streak, now 15-15 on the year. Denver is 5-0 against Golden State in their head-to-head matchups since falling to the Warriors, 4-1, in the first round of the 2022 playoffs.

Jamal Murray paced Denver with 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting. He's averaging 26.6 points over his last three games.

"Coach has been doing a great job just not taking me out early and letting me ride when I'm hot," said Murray about his recent play.

Nikola Jokić had 26 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists. He didn't shoot the ball particularly well, going just 4-of-12 from the field, but he did make history at the free-throw line. Jokić got to the line 9 separate times and was a perfect 18-for-18 on his free throws. He tied Danilo Gallinari and Danny Schayes for the most made free-throws without a miss in franchise history.

"Yeah, Jok does a great job, man. He gets fouled a lot. You see (the cuts on) his arms everywhere—those are fouls. I think he gets beat up down there kind of similar to how Dwight Howard used to," said Murray. "He's just such a big body."

Michael Porter Jr. recorded 19 points, 10 rebounds, and a career-high 4 blocks. Two of those blocks came against Klay Thompson at the three-point line. He was awarded Defensive Player of the Game by Malone.

"You can't jump into guys but getting a hand up early, it does make a difference. When guys do it to me, it makes a difference. So, against this team, it's especially important because they all can shoot from deep. So, if you have your hands down, even at the four-point line, they'll let it go."

Aaron Gordon also pitched in 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and 10 rebounds. This was the first time all season that three Nuggets recorded a double-double (Gordon, Jokić, and Porter Jr.).

On the other end, Denver did an excellent job limiting Golden State's two most dangerous players, the Splash Bros. Thompson went just 3-of-12 from the field and 3-of-10 from deep, and Stephen Curry scored on just 7 of his 21 total shots and 3 of his 13 three-pointers. In large part, this was due to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's hounding defense on Curry. He, too, was awarded a Defensive Player of the Game chain by the coaching staff.

"It was just an outstanding job by KCP," said Malone. "Watching him tonight, if that guy is not considered one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, then I don't know who is. I just have to say that because I don't think KCP gets the respect that he deserves, to be quite honest."

Porter Jr. began the game ablaze and put up 10 points in the quarter. His constant movement as a cutter helped Denver's starters build a 10-point lead. Then, the bench checked in and things started to sway in Golden State's direction. Denver finished ahead, 29-26, after one period of play.

Porter Jr. hit two more jump shots to stabilize things and reached 15 points in the game. However, Golden State continued to battle and made it a 6-point game in their favor. Denver's starters checked back in at the 8-minute mark in the quarter and went on a 15-6 run. Unfortunately, a poor close to the quarter allowed Golden State to go on an 8-0 run and finish the first half ahead, 54-53.

Denver's starters played excellent ball to open the second half. Caldwell-Pope made 4-of-5 shots and 2 three-pointers to reach 10 points in the quarter. He also guarded Curry excellently on the other end and forced him into 1-of-5 shooting from three. Denver entered the fourth quarter with a 92-89 lead.

Jokić checked out to begin the fourth, and Golden State promptly took a 3-point lead. However, rookie Julain Strawther hit a huge floater, plus the foul, to keep things steady. Then, Jokić checked back in and promptly got to work against Kevon Looney. Denver cleared out a side and let their MVP post up, and Jokić made 3 of his 4 total field goals in the game.

Though Golden State made it interesting, Jamal Murray hit two huge shots late–a turnaround jumper against Stephen Curry and a massive pull-up three-pointer out of the pick-and-roll with Jokić—and Denver left Christmas Day feeling happy.