J.R. Smith’s 22 points led nine Nuggets in double figures and Kosta Koufos tied his career high with 18 points in Denver’s 134-111 win over Golden State on Monday night.
The injury-riddled Nuggets reached 50 wins for the fourth straight season and clinched the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Yet, they’re limping into the playoffs.
On the same night forward Arron Afflalo and center Chris “Birdman” Andersen returned to action, center Nene strained his left groin and missed the second half. The Nuggets said he’s day to day.
Afflalo left the game 2 1/2 minutes into the second half and didn’t return. He appeared to walk gingerly to the bench during a timeout after scoring 10 points in 17 minutes.
Afflalo had missed 11 of the team’s previous 15 games with a strained left hamstring, and Andersen hadn’t played since spraining his right ankle April 1. Andersen finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
While Afflalo had a quiet and short-lived return, Andersen had five rim-rattling dunks to spark the Nuggets along with Smith’s bevy of 3-pointers that helped them pull away late in the third quarter.
Every Nuggets player who played scored in double figures, including Koufos, who didn’t play at all in the first half. He finished one board shy of joining Andersen and Raymond Felton (15 points, 10 assists) with a double-double.
Stephen Curry and Dorell Wright each scored 27 for Golden State. Wright scored 1,333 combined in his first six NBA seasons and has 1,324 already this season with one game left.
The Warriors were without guard Monta Ellis, who sustained a concussion in the final minute of a game against Sacramento on Sunday night. He’ll also miss Golden State’s season finale against Portland on Wednesday night.
Ellis was released from the hospital Monday after spending the night for further examination following the collision with Kings power forward DeMarcus Cousins. Ellis led the NBA this season with 40.3 minutes per game. He also averaged 24.1 points, 5.6 assists and 3.5 rebounds.