Programming note: For all the day’s sports news, tune in to SportsNet Central tonight at 6 p.m., 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
OAKLAND – Seeing closure up ahead but forced to endure, the Warriors clearly were dragging and sagging at the end, which couldn't come soon enough.
But they finished in style. Training camp 2014 is done and so is the preseason schedule, which they concluded with a relatively grueling 119-112 win over the Nuggets Friday night at Oracle Arena.
The starters, for the most part, were taken to the point of fatigue – just as planned by rookie coach Steve Kerr.
"I wanted to get those guys up into the low 30s, minutes-wise, just to get a real dress rehearsal,'' he said. "Conditioning-wise, it showed. We were a little tired down the stretch.
"But that's the whole point. It's the end of training camp and now we've got to get into regular-season conditioning. The only way to do that is to play a full game.''
Klay Thompson played a team-high 36 minutes and led the scoring 35 points. Stephen Curry played 34 minutes and finished with 17. Andrew Bogut approached a triple-double (12 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) in 32 minutes, while David Lee delivered 11 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes.
The fifth starter, Harrison Barnes, continued to struggle, managing only 4 points, two rebounds and three personal fouls in 24 minutes.
But the bench, so long a weak area, provided the necessities required of victory. Andre Iguodala, still adjusting to coming off the bench, submitted a typical stat-sheet filling performance: 6 points, seven assists and three rebounds before fouling out.
Moreover, Iguodala's chemistry with veteran guard Leandro Barbosa continues to be effective. Playing off the playmaking Iguodala, Barbosa turned in perhaps his best preseason performance: 15 points in 14 minutes, nailing both his 3-point attempts.
"I just love the combination when he and Andre have played together,'' Kerr said, adding that he believes Iguodala has not committed a turnover when paired with Barbosa.
"Andre is a point forward and LB is a natural scorer, so it's a good fit.''
Iguodala, however, can't hide his mixed feelings. In 10 NBA seasons, he has never come off the bench. This is an entirely new role and he, reluctantly, is rolling with it. Consider his response when asked if he likes the second unit pairing with Barbosa.
"I think I'm supposed to say yes, so, I mean, I guess,'' Iguodala said, only somewhat tongue-in-cheek. "We are competitors, you know.
"My major thing is just trying to enjoy the game, being out there and just having fun. So I'm not going to try to lose focus or not be into what's most important, which is our basketball team and trying to help us win.''
Kerr maintains that he has not made a decision on whether he'll stay with Barnes or go back to Iguodala. Barnes is not producing, but Iguodala is thriving in his hybrid role off the bench.
After taking Saturday off, Kerr and his staff will have three days to formulate a rotation. Even if Barnes isn't earning what typically is considered a promotion, Iguodala may be too valuable to move.
THE GOOD: After some early sloppiness and turnovers, the Warriors pulled it together and moved the ball brilliantly. They finished with 35 assists on 44 baskets.
Thompson on several occasions drove to the hoop with authority, including a key driving layup that triggered the game-closing run.
Iguodala continues to shine as a facilitator, whether with the first unit or the second unit or with a combination. Kerr can't help but love that.
Barbosa, whose minutes have been monitored because of his participation in the FIBA World Cup, put on a terrific 9-point burst in 85 seconds in the second quarter.
THE BAD: Barnes continues to struggle with the first unit. The coaches yearn to see him crank it up, but it's as if he disappears in plain sight. Kerr has to hate that.
The Warriors lost the rebounding battle, 46-37, though the Nuggets are one of the league's bigger, bulkier teams up front.
THE TAKE: Preseason exists to sharpen conditioning, set the roster and the rotations. One decision remains: the Barnes-or-Iguodala call at small forward. Kerr must decide if Iguodala is invaluable off the bench, even if Barnes shows little as a starter. It certainly looks that way. Young Justin Holiday, who earned the final roster spot, has been more effective than Barnes.