Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Moving down

Mike Montgomery won 26 straight games to start the season last year at Stanford, so celebrating three victories in a row seemed like a strange notion for Golden State's first-year coach.

His players did it for him.

Mickael Pietrus scored a career-high 24 points off the bench and the Warriors won three straight for the first time this season, beating the injury-depleted Denver Nuggets 104-101 on Monday night.

``I'm very happy,'' Pietrus said. ``The most important thing for me is the team and the way we're playing right now.''

Jason Richardson added 18 points and seven rebounds for the Warriors, who hadn't won three in a row since getting seven straight from March 15-28 last season.

Andre Miller had 21 points and a season-high 14 assists but missed two free throws in the final minute for the Nuggets, who extended their season-long losing streak to six games and lost their eighth in nine. Nene added 19 points and nine rebounds, and Marcus Camby had 16 points and 12 boards and received a scare when he landed hard on his wrist on a third-quarter breakaway.

Earl Boykins missed a desperation shot at the buzzer in an attempt to tie it for Denver, which played without star forward and leading scorer Carmelo Anthony and forward Kenyon Martin because of injuries.

``We're not here for a moral victory,'' Camby said. ``We came here to get a win. Despite who we did or didn't have out there, the guys we did have played hard and competed. It's tough not playing with the two best players on your team, but we've been battling injuries all season and guys have found a way to step up.''

The Warriors rallied in the final period after going cold in the third and getting outscored 32-22. They hope to put a solid 48 minutes together soon.

``We're real close. We're getting there,'' Richardson said. ``We want to build a winning streak, and we have the opportunity to build one.''

Richardson's two free throws with 6:25 left pulled the Warriors within 87-85 and Pietrus gave Golden State the lead the next time down the floor with a driving layin. Murphy scored at 5:22 and Richardson had two straight baskets to cap a 15-2 run.

``Games can take a turn very quickly,'' Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. ``That's what happens when you don't make shots and turn the ball over.''

Golden State, which led by as many as 14, beat Sacramento on Sunday to end an 11-game losing streak in Arco Arena.

Cliff Robinson made three 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 14 points, five assists and four rebounds for Golden State. Troy Murphy added 16 points and 16 boards, and Derek Fisher had 15 points.

Anthony missed his fifth straight game, but expects to return Friday when Denver hosts Philadelphia in its next game. The Nuggets opted to sit him out another day so Anthony will be assured of having two good practices on his ankle before Friday's game.

Martin, the team's second-leading scorer, was sidelined as a precautionary measure because of a mid-back strain on his left side. He was listed as day to day.

Richardson picked up his second offensive foul with 4:51 left in the first quarter, then immediately was hit with a technical for arguing and went to the bench. He didn't return until 5:49 before halftime. Coach Mike Montgomery spoke before the game about playing his stars fewer minutes early so they'd be fresh in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets opened the game by making 9 of 16 shots, but Golden State's second team sparked the Warriors with a 14-6 spurt to start the second quarter on the way to a 40-32 lead. But Nikoloz Tskitishvili scored seven straight during a 9-2 run to end the half and pull Denver within 53-46 at the break

This loss brings us to 0-6 in the last 6 games.We have been really struggling and all of us are hoping that Michael Cooper can turn this team around. Let's see if Mr. Cooper can get things together and get a solid line up going. Go Nuggets!

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