DENVER -- Denver Nuggets fans showered Andre Iguodala with boos every time he touched the ball Monday night.

The Warriors responded with a cavalcade of early points. Then they had to grind away in another Western Conference battle for an 89-81 win, their second straight workmanlike victory.

The team had Iguodala's back in his first game back at the Pepsi Center since he came to the Warriors in a three-team trade with Utah in July that saw him sign a $48 million deal with Golden State and turn down Denver's offer.

"We always got everybody's back," said David Lee, who had a game-high 28 points along with 10 rebounds. "Andre's been a great player on this team, and he did a great job. He was a thorn in our side last year. He did a great job in Denver, so I think he understands fans are going to do that when you come back to an old (stamping) ground.

Golden State Warriors forward David Lee, right, dunks the ball for a basket as, from left, Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler, Warriors center Andrew
Golden State Warriors forward David Lee, right, dunks the ball for a basket as, from left, Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler, Warriors center Andrew Bogut, of Australia, and Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov, of Russia, look on in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) ( David Zalubowski )

"We're happy to have him, and he's going to get a huge ovation when he comes (back) to Oracle."

The Warriors will return home for a two-game set against the Los Angeles Clippers on Christmas Day and the Phoenix Suns on Friday, before heading east for a seven-game trip.

Iguodala, who led the Nuggets to a franchise-best 57 wins last season, including averaging 18 points in a first-round playoff series against the Warriors, said Monday morning he didn't know what to expect in his return.

He quickly found out.

"It's just our day and age with sports now," Iguodala said of all the booing. "There's so many transactions, and fans are really into it. They're so close to the game. You're going to see a lot more."


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Iguodala's reputation was sullied last month when ex-Nuggets coach George Karl labeled him a Warriors "mole" during the playoffs -- a charge a seemingly mystified Iguodala denied Monday morning.

Iguodala, who is still trying to find the rhythm in his comeback after sitting out 12 games with a strained left hamstring, made a big 3-pointer to increase the Warriors' lead to 83-78 off a Klay Thompson assist and a Stephen Curry steal.

Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala, left, greets former teammate and Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson at center court as the teams warm up for an NBA
Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala, left, greets former teammate and Denver Nuggets guard Ty Lawson at center court as the teams warm up for an NBA basketball game in Denver, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. Iguodala was making his first appearance in Denver since being traded to Golden State in the off-season. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) ( David Zalubowski )

Thompson and Curry had off nights, going a combined 11 for 30 from the field and scoring a combined 27 points.

But the Warriors were pleased to overcome that by outscoring the Nuggets 25-15 in the fourth quarter to retake the lead and secure a road victory.

"It just shows how good we can be, because there is no question about our guys' ability to score and shoot the basketball," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "The thing that can remain a constant for us is our ability to defend and defend at a high level. That is what is going to win ballgames for us.

"When our guys establish a rhythm, it is going to be awfully pretty."

Lee and Andrew Bogut combined for 21 rebounds, their inside presence helping compensate for Curry and Thompson's scoring woes.

Curry was scoreless in the third quarter and saddled with foul trouble. He finally warmed up early in the fourth quarter with five straight points and finished with 14 points -- 10 below his average. Thompson had three of the Warriors' 15 turnovers, but he delivered in the clutch. His field goal with 22.6 seconds left increased the lead to 85-80.

The Warriors tightened the screws on defense in the fourth quarter against a Nuggets team playing without offensive rebounding force Kenneth Faried, a late scratch because of an ankle injury. Denver finished the game shooting 38.3 percent from the floor to go with 17 turnovers.

The Warriors opened on a Rocky Mountain high, scoring 30 in the first quarter -- their biggest output in that period in 20 games, dating to Nov. 14.

But the Nuggets kept coming after a slow start. Denver, which lost its fourth straight game, took its first lead on a 3-pointer by a wide-open Wilson Chandler with 6:26 left in the third quarter.

The Warriors bolted to a 26-12 lead, but Ty Lawson sparked Denver with dazzling floor play and tight guarding of Curry, limited him to eight points in the first half.

Wednesday's game

L.A. Clippers (20-9) at Warriors (16-13), 7:30 p.m. CSNBA, ESPN


Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson directs his team against the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver, Monday,
Golden State Warriors head coach Mark Jackson directs his team against the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) ( David Zalubowski )