DENVER — The grumbles gave way to cheers late in the third quarter Tuesday night. When Warriors guard Stephen Curry hit his second 30-foot jumper in a 50-second span, a capacity Pepsi Center crowd roared in approval.
It was understandable: With the home team’s fate long sealed, fans were intent on enjoying a historic performance. In its 142-111 rout of the Nuggets, Golden State looked more video game than NBA team, drilling 21 three-pointers — one shy of the franchise record — to leap-frog Denver for the Western Conference lead and extend its winning streak to five games.
A blowout didn’t keep paying customers from staying until well into the fourth quarter. With 7:27 left, Klay Thompson knifed through the key and threw down a one-handed dunk. Thompson raised his arms and pretended to raise the roof. After slamming home just seven dunks in his first 43 games this season, he had just notched his fourth of the night.
By that point, fans were no longer reveling in the Warriors’ brilliance. A chorus of boos broke out as they filed toward the exits. In a game the Nuggets had hoped would help cement their status as a contender in the West, Golden State had reminded its critics just how dominant it can be when it moves the ball and spreads the floor.
In the first quarter alone, the Warriors built a 51-38 lead on a mix of deep threes, alley-oops and one-handed dunks. Those 51 points marked the highest-scoring first quarter in NBA history, the highest-scoring quarter in the NBA this season and the second-highest-scoring quarter in franchise history. Golden State only tallied more when it hung a 57-point third quarter on the Kings on March 4, 1989.
A Denver team that had entered Tuesday second in the league in three-point defense looked lost against the Warriors’ parade of screens, passes and pull-up jumpers. In that first quarter, Golden State shot 19-for-25 from the field and 10-for-14 from three. Those 10 threes set the franchise record for a quarter.
Photo: Matthew Stockman / Getty Images
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It was quite the statement by a group that has been surprisingly uneven much of the season. Whenever the Nuggets mounted a mini-spurt, the Warriors unleashed a run and a stream of highlights. Thompson (31 points), Stephen Curry (31 points) and Kevin Durant (27 points) needed only a combined 52 shots to score 89 points. Draymond Green chipped in a season-high 13 assists, and Kevon Looney corralled a career-high 12 rebounds.
This was the type of all-around pummeling that Golden State made its signature in its ascension to the top of the NBA. Now, after an underwhelming two-plus months, it is channeling its inner schoolyard bully again. Of their five wins during this streak, the Warriors have won three by at least 20 points.
All of this just as four-time NBA All-Star DeMarcus Cousins is set to make his Warriors debut Friday night against the Clippers at Staples Center.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Warriors-ride-record-setting-1st-quarter-to-rout-13537139.php.