Denver Nuggets 97, Golden State Warriors 118: Three takeaways
The Nuggets’ four-game win streak came to end as they suffered a 118-97 defeat in San Francisco to the Warriors.
More concerning than the loss is the status of veteran guard Will Barton III. The 30-year-old went down with a hamstring injury in the opening moment of the contest and was ruled out for the rest of the game. The Nuggets will now await to hear his status.
Denver trailed by just four heading into halftime, but couldn’t sustain their efforts in the final 24 minutes. The visitors were held to 47 points in the final two quarters.
Michael Porter Jr. hit seven threes en route to a 26-point outing to lead the Nuggets. Steph Curry once again was too difficult for Denver to contain with the All-Star guard pouring 32 points to go along with eight boards and three assists.
Michael Malone’s team will look to regroup 24 hours later when they host the 15-45 Rockets at Ball Arena (8 p.m. MT, Altitude).
Here are the takeaways
Offensive struggles costly
The Nuggets shot just 38.6 percent from the field, including hitting just 13 of 46 from downtown Friday. It’s difficult to win in the NBA when teams shot under 40 percent and can’t connect on threes.
The Barton III injury likely played a part as the Nuggets lost arguably their best dribbler and perimeter shot creator with Jamal Murray out. With Barton III out, Denver struggled to penetrate offensively. The remaining guard group of Facundo Campazzo, PJ Dozier, Austin Rivers, and Shaq Harrison combined to shoot just 10 of 30.
Paint play takes a hit
The last time these teams met in the Bay Area, it was the three-point shooting that hurt them. On Friday, it was the paint that came to haunt them.
Denver was outscored 30-50 in the paint by Golden State, a number the Nuggets’ coaching staff will focus on after the game. The Nuggets entered the game with the league’s ninth-best team in scoring in the paint, averaging 49.7 points a game in that area. They also have the seven-best paint defense, allowing 45.4 per night. To be held to 30 points in the paint by a Warriors team that gives up 46.9 points per game (13th) in that area is an aberration for the Nuggets.
Draymond Green’s impressive court vision and incisive passing proved too challenging to deal with for the Warriors. The veteran big tied his career-high in assists with 19, with many directly heading into the paint.
Despite the overall struggles of the Nuggets’ offense, Aaron Gordon had an efficient 17-point, six-rebound outing. The forward shot 6 of 11 and also had four trips to the line, converting on three.
Gordon averaged 7.3 points on 33.3 percent shooting in his last three outings so this represents an important bounce-back for the 25-year-old. With the Nuggets dealing with injuries to Murray, Monte Morris, and potentially Barton III, they need players like Gordon to raise their scoring production.
Another player who shined toward the end of the game was Porter Jr. The second-year player got off to a rough start, shooting 5 of 13 with 17 points. Like the great scorers in the league, Porter Jr. seemingly put it behind him and put up nine points in the fourth quarter on 3 of 5 shooting. Once again, he was most dangerous from behind the arc, connecting on three shots from downtown in the final 12 minutes.