By JANIE McCAULEY, AP Sports Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Nuggets coach Michael Malone so appreciates Nikola Jokic taking over a game and leading the way on both ends.
Jokic had his 77th career triple-double with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists playing with a sore right wrist he had taped, and Denver edged Golden State 128-123 on Friday night in a rematch of the teams’ first-round playoff series won by the Warriors in five games on their way to the title.
“My biggest challenge for Nikola is always finding a way to use his voice and be a leader,” Malone said. “This is his team. He’s a great player, and what makes him great is he makes every one of those guys better. And that chemistry is only going to continue to get better and better as the season goes along. But tonight was a great example of what it has potential to be.”
Jordan Poole made a backcourt steal from Bones Hyland and scored with 14.7 seconds left to get Golden State to 124-123 then Bruce Brown dunked immediately off a long pass by Jokic. The Warriors had another chance and Klay Thompson missed a potential tying 3 from the top with 9.3 seconds to go.
Jokic secured the rebound then converted two free throws.
“He’s everybody’s kryptonite,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s a two-time MVP for a reason.”
Stephen Curry scored 34 points with five 3-pointers after a second straight slow start shooting and has 30-point performances in his first two games. But the Warriors committed 19 turnovers that led to 30 Denver points.
Brown scored 20 points and Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 17 apiece for the Nuggets.
“We didn’t start off with a strong defensive presence,” Draymond Green said. “Five minutes into the game they had 20 points. That’s on me.”
Golden State debuted revamped “Run TMC” blue jerseys to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hall of Famer Chris Mullin’s gold medal with The Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics.
Thompson and Draymond Green had 16 and 13 points, respectively, playing increased minutes — 23 for Thompson and 27 for Green, who also had nine assists.
Thompson played nearly 20 minutes and Green almost 25 in a season-opening 123-109 victory over the Lakers on Tuesday night.
Denver has three straight regular-season victories on the Warriors’ home floor, getting in the win column after the Nuggets lost their opener to the Jazz 123-102 at Utah on Wednesday.
Kerr offered his thoughts to the family of longtime referee Tony Brown, who died Thursday at age 55 from pancreatic cancer.
“He’s a great ref and he made an impact on this league and everybody liked him,” Kerr said. “We’ve missed him the last couple years and the news yesterday it really hit home and hit hard for all of us, the players, coaches, entire organization.”
Nuggets: G Jamal Murray sat out and won’t play both games of back-to-backs early on as he nurses a left knee injury. “We want to be smart,” Malone said. “Hopefully by Christmas, New Year, All-Star break what we’re doing now is not what we’re doing then.”
Warriors: Curry begins his 14th season with the Warriors, surpassing Mullin’s 13 for most in franchise history. … F Andre Iguodala sat out a second straight game to start the season as the Warriors manage his left hip injury.
Nuggets: The Nuggets return to Denver during this grueling early stretch of three games in four nights with their home opener Saturday against the Thunder.
Warriors: Host the Kings and former top assistant Mike Brown, Sacramento’s first-year coach, on Sunday night.
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