Nuggets Fall Short In Loss to Warriors

Oh, how the tables can turn. After the Denver Nuggets’ starting lineup thrived in recent games, it was the team’s bench unit that kept them in the game through three quarters against the Golden State Warriors. Ultimately, Denver fell 122-105 to the reigning defending champions, as they weren’t able to overcome a poor shooting night.

Denver (43-22) struggled out of the gates, as it shot 2 of 8 from the field and committed five turnovers in the first six minutes of the game. Golden State took advantage of the extra possessions and jumped out to a 15-3 lead. The Warriors (45-20) extended their lead to 19 at one point in the quarter, but the Nuggets’ bench unit used active hands on defense and several trips to the free-throw line to get back into the game. Denver went 10 of 14 from the free throw line in the quarter and forced six turnovers by the Warriors. Ultimately, the Nuggets found themselves down just ten after the first quarter, despite shooting 4-18 from the field and committing seven turnovers.

The bench unit continued its strong play to start the second, going on a 9-2 run fueled by five points from Torrey Craig. Malik Beasley followed things up with a run of his own, knocking down two consecutive 3-pointers, one of which gave Denver its first lead of the night at 37-36.

“Monte (Morris) had a lot to do with keeping us in the game,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone pointed out, praising Morris for “running our team, getting us into our offense, and making a play for someone else.”

It was a back-and-forth affair for the next several minutes before Denver’s starters returned to the game. Klay Thompson was the main act for Golden State in the first half, and he fueled a 14-0 run by the Warriors over the final two minutes of the half. Golden State knocked down 11 consecutive shots to take a 67-50 lead into the break.

The two teams battled to a near-draw to start the third quarter. The Warriors were able to respond to each Denver basket with points of their own, thus stifling a comeback attempt for the Nuggets. Denver would cut the deficit down to nine on several occasions, only to see Kevin Durant respond with timely baskets, including an and-one on a tough fadeaway jumper. As Denver cut the lead down to eight as a result of a hook shot from Mason Plumlee, Golden State responded with a 10-0 run to extend the lead back to 18 points. The Warriors took a 90-75 advantage into the final quarter.

Golden State was able to withstand another comeback attempt from Denver, causing timely turnovers and missed shots to extend the lead to 16 with just under nine minutes remaining in the game. Once again, timely 3-pointers from Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant allowed the Warriors to gain full control of the game, extending their lead up to 22 points with just over six minutes remaining in the game. Denver went to a bench lineup to close the final minutes of the game.

Michael Malone expressed his desire for the team to respond to the loss, saying “we’ll watch film, go home, and hopefully learn from this.”

Denver was led by Malik Beasley, who scored 17 points while knocking down five 3-pointers. Monte Morris (17 points) Nikola Jokić (16) and Jamal Murray (11) were the other players in double-figures for the Nuggets.

Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 39 points, with 27 of them coming from beyond the arc. Kevin Durant (26 points), Stephen Curry (17) and DeMarcus Cousins (13) were the other Warriors in double figures.

The Nuggets return home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. That game will be broadcasted live on TNT.