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Nuggets hit as Warriors equal best start

 Festus Ezeli of the Golden State Warriors takes a shot over Will Barton and J.J. Hickson of the Denver Nuggets on November 22, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. PHOTO/AFP

Festus Ezeli of the Golden State Warriors takes a shot over Will Barton and J.J. Hickson of the Denver Nuggets on November 22, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. PHOTO/AFP

LOS ANGELES, November 23- The Golden State Warriors defeated the host Denver Nuggets 118-105 on Sunday to equal the best start to a season in NBA history with their 15th win of 2015.

The reigning NBA champion Warriors matched the record 15-0 opening achieved by Washington in 1948-49 and by the Houston Rockets in 1993-94.

They will try to break the record when they host the lackluster Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.

“To get to 15-0 and tie a record that has been standing for a long time is a huge accomplishment,” said reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry.

“We want to take it to the next level Tuesday back at home,” Curry said. “But to come here and get this win, with what it all meant, was a huge accomplishment for us.”

The Warriors’ wins have run the gamut — from a 119-69 blowout of the Memphis Grizzlies on November 2 to a rally from a 23-point first-half deficit to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 124-117 on Thursday.

Sunday’s win was their 10th double-digit victory of the season, despite the fact that Curry, who came into the contest averaging 33.6 points per game, delivered fewer than 20 points for the first time this season.

Curry — who took a season-low 16 shots — finished with 19 points — 10 of them in a decisive third quarter in which the Warriors stretched their lead to 91-79.

They led by as many as 21 in the fourth.

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Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 21 points. Harrison Barnes added 17, Draymond Green scored 13 and Andre Iguodala chipped in 12 off the bench.

“I told the guys it was a great team win tonight,” said Golden State’s interim head coach Luke Walton — who has guided the team all season in place of ailing Steve Kerr.

“Everyone that played scored while they were in and we had 35 assists,” Walton said. “We still had too many turnovers, but just an all-around great team win.”

Curry was on the bench when the game ended, lifting both fists as the clock wound down.

But Walton said the early-season victory wouldn’t spark a celebration, but more “acknowledgement of how special what these guys are doing is”.

“These guys, they deserve it,” Walton said. “They play the right way. They’re unselfish. They’ve had fun — you see the joy that they have when they play basketball.”

The Warriors’ phenomenal start has already sparked suggestions they could surpass the 72 regular-season wins of Michael Jordan’s 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.

Whether that comes to pass or not, the Warriors are no doubt aware that the two other teams to start 15-0 both reached the NBA Finals.

Washington fell in six games to the then-Minneapolis Lakers, while the Rockets of Hakeem Olajuwon won their first NBA title, beating the New York Knicks in seven games.

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– Free fall –

As the Warriors go from strength to strength, one of the teams expected to challenge them in the West — the Los Angeles Clippers, endured their third straight defeat on Sunday, falling 91-80 to Toronto to fall to 6-7 for the season.

“Pretty frustrating dropping three in a row,” said the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, who was one of three Los Angeles starters who failed to score in the first quarter. “I think that’s pretty normal to be frustrated, but we can’t let that frustration affect us negatively going forward.”

The Dallas Mavericks, third in the West behind Golden State and the San Antonio Spurs, saw their six-game winning streak end with a 117-114 loss to Oklahoma City.

Russell Westbrook scored 31 points to lead six Thunder players in double figures.

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