for this game

Wright, Warriors bench too much for Nuggets in first game without Iverson

Nov 6, 2008 - 8:04 AM By Ryan Leong PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- Brandan Wright finally is getting an opportunity to contribute for the Golden State Warriors.

Wright had a career-high 18 points and 13 rebounds off the bench Wednesday for the Warriors, who posted a 111-101 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

The second-year forward, Wright averaged 4.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in 38 games for Golden State last season and had appeared in only three contests in the new campaign.

But Wright led a strong effort from Golden State's bench on Wednesday, registering his first career double-double in the Warriors' first win at home this season.

"It's good to get out there and play," Wright said. "That's what it's all about. When you get out there you get experience. You get familiar with the game, the speed and all that kind of stuff. It just starts rolling for you. You start feeling more comfortable, you start feeling like everything is going well for you, and it's just good to get out there and play, that's the biggest thing."

Part of the reason Wright is getting additional playing time is an ongoing feud between coach Don Nelson and Al Harrington, who requested a trade one day before the season began.

Nelson was not happy about Harrington speaking to the media about his lack of playing time.

"I made a deal with him that I was going to play him as many minutes as he would want and I would have kept that word," Nelson said. "But when he surprised me with going public with wanting to be traded, it (has) made it pretty difficult for me and everybody else.

"And he hasn't been playing well to go along with it so we might as well make the change now. People in the league know he's a good player and know if there's a trade to be made, we'll make it."

But Harrington, who had three points and four fouls in 16 minutes, said the focus has been about the team and not himself.

"That's his excuse for not playing me," Harrington said. "As far as what coach said, I don't care. If he wants to trade me, he can trade me. I'm not a contract that can't be moved. Who am I disgruntled to? If you talk to my teammates, I don't talk about being traded. I'm about the team."

Kelenna Azubuike had 22 points and eight rebounds to lead all reserves while C.J. Watson added 14 points in a backup role for Golden State.

"We really had a bad start tonight, but the main reason we won tonight was the bench came out strong," said Warriors center Andris Biedrins, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds. "We had a lot of energy. Wright, C.J., Kelenna, they brought a totally different energy onto the floor, and that's a big part of why we won."

Stephen Jackson led all scorers with 29 points. Jackson is a close friend of Harrington and has mixed feelings about his situation.

"I really can't speak on what's going to happen but I just know how I feel about Al as a friend and as a brother and I know how I respect coach and what he does," Jackson said. "I'm kind of torn, I'm in the middle and I'm at a loss for words about it."

The Warriors have had a tumultuous offseason with the departure of Baron Davis to free agency, the injury to Monta Ellis, and now the off-court drama between Nelson and Harrington.

"Anytime there's a cloud around things, if its not about basketball, obviously its going to bother people," Jackson said. "But it's a business, things happen. You go through injuries, you go through ups and downs, you go through trades and I think the biggest thing for us, we've got to be professional about it and regardless of what's going on we've still got to come and play and win games and that's where we've got to keep our head at."

The Nuggets missed not having Chauncey Billups, who was acquired in the trade that sent Allen Iverson to the Detroit Pistons on Monday.

"One more body would have helped us but my biggest disappointment for some reason is our bench letting their bench have such a great night and letting some guys who haven't played very well this year come in and play very well for them," Denver coach George Karl said.

Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points while Nene added 19 with 15 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to help Denver hold on to an 18-point first-quarter lead.

"The positive part of this game is that we stayed with the Warriors even after they came back," Nene said. "We made a lot of mistakes with turnovers but we will learn from these mistakes and we will be all right.

"It's definitely going to feel good when we have Chauncey joining this team. All we need to do is work with him and play our game."

The Nuggets went on an 11-0 run en route to a 35-17 advantage in the first quarter as Golden State started ice cold from the field, missing eight of its first 10 shots.

But the Warriors suddenly went on an 11-0 run and trailed by only seven points at the end of the period.

Golden State's 26-7 run in the second quarter briefly gave it a one-point lead on a put-back dunk by Wright with 6:49 remaining in the first half. It remained close for the rest of the quarter and the Nuggets took a 59-58 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter was also tightly contested as the Warriors held a four-point edge at the start of the fourth.

A triple by Linas Kleiza 2:24 into the final frame was the Nuggets' first 3-pointer in 10 attempts in the game and pulled the team within three.

Chris Andersen made a short jumper before a long three by J.R. Smith from the baseline gave Denver a brief one-point lead with 8:32 remaining.

Wright made a turnaround jumper to put Golden State back in front and Jackson and Azubuike followed with layups to give the Warriors a 95-90 lead with seven minutes remaining - an advantage they would not relinquish.