DENVER (AP) – Wilson Chandler returned after a two-month absence due to hip problems with a strong effort on both sides of the ball for the Denver Nuggets.
Chandler scored 14 points in 21 minutes, tops among Denver’s reserves, and had two steals to key a big fourth-quarter run as the Nuggets rallied past the Golden State Warriors 116-105 Sunday night for their season-high fifth straight win.
“I got a little winded but hopefully that’s something I’ve just got to fight through,” said Chandler, who was playing for the first time since early November after undergoing surgery last spring to repair a labral tear in his left hip. “It felt good to be back out there having fun. Not being healthy last year and this year has been frustrating so I was glad I was out there for that long and felt that good.”
Chandler’s return provides another option for the Nuggets on an already deep bench as Denver’s reserves outscored Golden State’s backups 48-17.
“It helps knowing that come playoff time, we have depth and guys who can step up, especially when somebody has a bad night,” Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried said. “We don’t have to rely on just one or two guys. We’ve got three, four, five guys who can come in and score or play defense and do the little things that help us win games.”
Down by eight going into the fourth quarter, Denver opened the period with a 19-2 flurry to go up 98-89. Andre Miller and Corey Brewer each scored six points, running the floor and scoring primarily on layups. Faried converted a three-point play when he muscled in a dunk and was fouled by Lee.
The Warriors opened the door to the Nuggets’ comeback with some sloppy ball-handling, committing seven of their 18 turnovers in the fourth quarter and allowing Denver to get its transition game going.
“We didn’t take care of the basketball at the start of the fourth quarter,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We gave them life by being careless with the basketball. It is a team that feeds off that. They got going in transition and that hurt us.”
Lee broke up the flurry with a dunk and Curry connected on successive 3s to pull the Warriors to 100-97 with 6:10 remaining.
Brewer, who finished with 13 points, and Gallinari hit 3s around a dunk by Gallinari to rebuild the Nuggets’ lead to 108-97. Barnes’ 3 with 4:00 left cut the Warriors’ deficit to nine points but Faried shook loose for a breakaway dunk and the Warriors didn’t threaten again.
“We got sloppy and we didn’t get good possessions,” Curry said. “Against a team like Denver, that fuels their offense. They got easy baskets and it deflated us a little bit. In the half-court, we stopped them all night and then we let them get into transition.
“It is tough to stop when they get going. They are a fast team and they go 10 deep and go up and down. We play a lot of minutes and we have to have good possessions on offense.”
The Nuggets scored six straight points, including a short turnaround jumper by JaVale McGee to tie the score at 75-all with 3:23 left in the third quarter. Golden State, though, closed out the quarter with a 12-4 run.
Curry’s bank shot and a dunk by Barnes started the surge that allowed the Warriors to take an 87-79 lead into the final period.
Curry hit five 3s in the first half, helping the Warriors take a 54-52 lead.
NOTES: Nuggets C Kosta Koufos scored the 1,000th point of his career when he made a hook shot with 6:32 remaining in the third quarter. … Curry has scored 20 or more points 23 times this season. … Lee finished four assists shy of a triple double. … The Nuggets have outscored the opposition 151-102 in the fourth quarter during their five-game winning streak. … Denver has won 23 consecutive games at home when scoring 110 or more points. … Barnes’ five 3s represented a career high.
By DENNIS GEORGATOS, Associated Press
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