Golden State Warriors 116, Denver Nuggets 100: Three takeaways

by Eric Spyropoulos
Staff Writer
@EricSpyrosNBA

There is a constant discussion around “trap games” in the NBA. When a team goes through an 82-game season full of travel, injuries, etc., surprise losses tend to happen. Though not playing on the second night of a back-to-back or missing any key rotation players, the Denver Nuggets fell 116-100 to the Golden State Warriors at Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

Despite a slow start in which the Nuggets (41-20) only scored 25 points in the first quarter, Mason Plumlee provided a much-needed spark in the second half to push Denver back in the lead. Plumlee dropped 11 points, five rebounds and two assists in the first half as the Nuggets took a 58-49 lead into the break.

Golden State (14-48) wouldn’t go down quietly and came back to take the lead after three quarters. The disparity in 3-point shooting continued to sink Denver, as the Warriors had knocked down 12 more 3-pointers through three quarters. The lead only grew early in the fourth quarter, forcing Denver to play from behind, a tough ask given the team’s 3-point shooting on the night. Ultimately, the Warriors continued to hit timely shots to escape with the major upset.

"It happens," Nikola Jokić said. "We've shown that we can beat the best teams record-wise and that we can lose to the worst teams record-wise. They came in here and made a lot of shots and were aggressive."

Here are three takeaways from Denver’s loss:

Plumlee led the second-unit charge

After a sluggish first quarter, the Nuggets were in need of a boost. Luckily for Denver, Plumlee was up to the task on Tuesday, as he immediately made an impact in his seven first-half minutes. As mentioned earlier, Plumlee scored, rebounded and dished out a couple of assists. He shot a perfect 5 of 5 from the field in the first half as the Nuggets took the lead.

Although his impact was quieter in the second half as Denver coach Michael Malone relied on his starters to attempt a comeback, the veteran big man finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and the aforementioned two assists on 7-of-8 shooting from the field.

"We didn't come with energy and didn't play defense," Plumlee said. "I'm not sure what it is, but we haven't been good against those teams. We've got to be better."

Balanced scoring attack on offense

Although it looked as though the Nuggets would mainly be led by Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray throughout the first half, the supporting cast stepped up throughout the second half and the Nuggets finished with five players in double-figures.

The shot distribution was mainly centered around Jokić, Murray and Will Barton III, but the three players struggled with efficiency as others such as Paul Millsap and Plumlee chipped in with putbacks and layups around the basket.

Although the offense struggled as a whole, Denver’s style of play was as expected. However, Malone would certainly prefer more assists (the Nuggets finished with 22 on the night) and fewer turnovers (Denver accumulated up 16 in the loss).

3-point shooting sinks Denver

When your opponent makes 15 more 3-pointers in a single game, it’s going to be very difficult to pull out a victory. Well, that’s exactly what happened to the Nuggets Tuesday, as Golden State finished 18-of-41 from beyond the arc, compared to 3-of-20 from Denver.

Golden State’s advantage from beyond the arc nearly equaled the number of attempts from the Nuggets, which highlights the need for more (and better) 3-point shooting from Denver’s offense.

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