The Golden State Warriors blew their Mile High track-meet, collapsing down the stretch into a 115-108 defeat to the Denver Nuggets. It was heavily contested throughout, as the champs gamely fought through the physical challenges of playing in the high altitude on the second night of back-to-back games. The Warriors arrived to the city at 4 A.M. and for the first time ever had trouble “staying woke”. Prior to this contest, the Warriors were 5-23 in second games of back-to-backs in Denver.
Kevin Durant led all scorers with 31 points on 12-of-16 shooting, while Stephen Curry scrapped his way to 24 points on 50% shooting. Klay Thompson chipped in 16 points. The Nuggets only shot 42% from the field, but drilled 12-of-29 three-point bombs, and made 25-of-29 free throws.
At the end of the first period, I was puzzled. Kevin Durant’s stat-line: 2 points, 0/0 from the field, 2/2 from the free throw line, 3 assists. Yet the Dubs still scored 32 points on 59% shooting. Also, there was this:
JaVale: 1 minute, 3 fouls.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 4, 2018
In the second period, mid-range hermit Shaun Livingston calmly stepped out of his comfort zone and into a corner three that fell well short.
Hm. All of a sudden, I had the creeping feeling that this was gonna be a bizarre night.
The end of the second quarter crystallized that thought, with both teams providing a series of ghastly basketball that left the Colorado crowd in a muted, horrified silence. The “coup-de-gras”: The Warriors activating the invincible Curry/Durant pick-and-roll to end the half, only to see Durant go flying to the ground from Nugget contact, which led the startled Curry to lazily waft a soft pass that was promptly intercepted.
Denver sprinted began a rare 4-on-1 fast break, only to throw the ball directly into the third row of a incredulous audience. Mercifully, the clock ran out, and the NBA forced both teams to take a fifteen minute break and eat a damn Snickers bar. After two periods, the Warriors led 56-55.
Side note: during halftime, I received this in a message. LOL. #theland
The two teams continued fighting back and forth before coach Steve Kerr called back on McGee. The giant then delivered two tremendous blocks that fueled the Dubs late in the third quarter.
JaVale with the block, Steph with the triple. Dubs up 10 pic.twitter.com/hfbSwY2cbD— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 4, 2018
He also added 2 more odd fouls, bringing his stat-line to a strange 5 fouls/5 blocks in 6 minutes. Is that good or bad for McGee?
At the end of the third, Kevon Looney took a nasty elbow to the face. The game paused as Draymond Green angrily barked for officials to look for the missing tooth (they found it). Looney would leave the game before returning in the fourth quarter.
Closer look at Looney's missing tooth pic.twitter.com/jZYIuN5Bjy— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) February 4, 2018
The Nuggets erased what was a double-digit Warriors advantage with an 11-2 run. Denver defended the Warriors with vigor, and the champs dead-legs betrayed them into unsavory shot selections and repeated turnovers. Then...sigh...Will Barton started looking like a young Allen Iverson.
The Nuggets crowd was in a full on throaty cry as the Warriors fell apart. Denver outscored them 38-25 in the final frame. Barton dazzled his way into 25 points (9-of-17 from the field, 3-of-5 from the arc). Nikola Jokic affected the game with his unique combination of burliness and patience, tallying up 19 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists.
A glimmer of hope in defeat
At least we got to see this when Looney briefly left:
Is Damian Jones ready to ascend from Santa Cruz directly into position as the greatest Warriors big man of all time?!
Who was the Warrior Wonder for the loss in Denver?
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