Warriors, Nuggets to meet in battle of 2-0 teams
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DENVER -- Nikola Jokic will attempt to post consecutive triple-doubles for the fifth time in his young career Sunday night when the Denver Nuggets host the Golden State Warriors in a clash of 2-0 teams.
Jokic torched Phoenix Suns rookie hotshot Deandre Ayton for 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in a 119-91 victory Saturday night that gave the Nuggets a season-opening 2-0 record for the first time since 2011.
In the second half of a back-to-back Sunday, he will go head-to-head with the young Golden State tandem of Damian Jones and Kevon Looney, who have taken over this season for veterans Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee.
It'll be the third straight tough assignment for the Warriors' young centers, who already have been pitted with Oklahoma City's Steven Adams and Utah's Rudy Gobert.
Jokic had one of his 10 triple-doubles last season against the Warriors, contributing 22 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists to a 124-114 loss at Golden State in January.
He logged triple-doubles in consecutive games three times last season, the last back-to-back coming against the Los Angeles Clippers and Portland in April.
The Nuggets beat the two-time champs twice last year, and are one of three teams -- along with San Antonio and Utah -- to have beaten Golden State at least five times in the Steve Kerr era.
They likely will go for a sixth win in the past five seasons without forward Will Barton, who suffered a hip injury in the third quarter of Saturday's win over the Suns. He had to be helped off the court.
The Nuggets already are without key free-agent signing Isaiah Thomas, who is rehabbing a hip injury of his own. There's no timetable on his return, but he already has made an impact on his teammates, giving each a boombox and headphones.
"Those are two pretty good gifts," fellow guard Gary Harris said. "I'm looking forward to whatever else he has in store."
While the Nuggets will be playing for the second night in a row, the Warriors got a much needed break Saturday after an energy-burning 124-123 road win at Utah on Friday night.
The Warriors, who trailed by as many as 16 points, prevailed when newcomer Jonas Jerebko, who played last season for Utah, tipped in a Kevin Durant miss with three seconds remaining.
"I know it's early in the season, but these type of games are exciting and fun," said Warriors star Stephen Curry, explaining Golden State's unusually demonstrative celebration for an early season victory. "We're thankful to get the win, so we've got to celebrate accordingly."
Curry has scored 32 and 31 points in Golden State's two wins, the first time in his career that he has gone for 30 or more in the first two games of a season.
The Warriors will be seeking to go 3-0 for the second time in the last four years. They opened 24-0 in 2015, winning 103-93 at Denver along the way.
Several Warriors have a history of struggling at Denver, including Durant, who has made just 36 of 106 (34.0 percent) 3-pointers in 19 career games at Denver, and Klay Thompson, who has never score more than 21 points in any of his 11 visits to the Pepsi Center.
Updated October 21, 2018