Things could not have started worse for the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday against the Denver Nuggets. Absent Draymond Green, who joined Jordan Poole and Damion Lee in the health and safety protocols, the Dubs looked as though they had just been introduced to the sport of basketball as they fell behind 10-0.
But we’ve seen that before. We’ve come to expect the bounce back. I made a note of the early deficit so it could be a fun anecdote in the recap, long after the Warriors had overcome it and I’d forgotten about it.
Except the Warriors only dug deeper in their quest to play basketball about as well as my parking garage neighbor stays in their allotted spot when parking. The first quarter was nothing short of awful, with the Dubs mustering just 16 points en route to a 15-point deficit when the buzzer rang.
The second quarter was only marginally better, with Golden State reminding fans that Green, despite his low scoring output, is a huge part of the offense. They had a rather pathetic 36 points at halftime, and trailed by 24 points.
It looked like the 2019-20 season all over again.
In fact, it was so bad, that I started writing the recap with this headline:
And then something clicked. Maybe it was a halftime speech by Steve Kerr. Maybe it was a stern veteran lecture from Steph Curry or Andre Iguodala.
Whatever it was, the spirit of Draymond showed up in the third quarter, as the Dubs held the Nuggets to just 14 points, while cutting the lead to 13. It continued into the fourth quarter, with Golden State quickly getting to within single digits, and cutting away from there.
It wasn’t pretty. Not by any stretch of the imagination. At least not on offense.
The defense was gorgeous though, as Golden State held Denver to just 29 second-half points.
But even that wasn’t quite enough. The offense couldn’t do what needed to be done, despite the defense’s best efforts. There were moments of brilliance, and a transition dunk from Gary Payton II — off a brilliant pass by Curry — tied the game with about a minute left.
After falling down again by four with 32 seconds remaining, the Warriors got a quick two, forced a turnover, and rushed down the court to try and tie the game. A semi-transition layup attempt by Jonathan Kuminga was blocked by Nikola Jokić, with the Chase Center crowd moaning at what looked like a rather clear foul.
A Facundo Campazzo missed free throw with just over two seconds remaining left the door open for the Dubs, but Iguodala badly missed a game-tying inbounds three at the buzzer, resulting in an 89-86 loss.
Curry overcame an awful start to the game to finish beautifully. A triple to end the third quarter was just his second field goal of the game, and his first made three, but he still finished with 23 points on 6-for-16 shooting. Andrew Wiggins, in his return to the lineup after missing a handful of games in the health and safety protocols, had 21 points and 8 rebounds.
But the Warriors were done in by 17 turnovers and awful shooting percentages: 42.3% from the field, 31.3% from deep, and a paltry 51.6% from the charity stripe, with Kuminga and Juan Toscano-Anderson combining for 12 of the team’s 15 missed free throws.
The good news for the Dubs, who are now 27-7, is that they get to look for revenge on Thursday, when they visit the Nuggets. If they play like they did in the second half, it should be a much different affair.
Check out the post-game show on Twitch with Marc Delucchi.