The Golden State Warriors could not finish off the Denver Nuggets on Sunday, falling 126-121 on Denver’s home floor. The Nuggets led for nearly all of regulation, but a strong second-half push briefly gave the Dubs an opportunity to complete the sweep. But, ultimately, they fell just short.
Nikola Jokić finally was able to carry the Nuggets to victory. He scored 18 first-quarter points and finished with 37 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. Draymond Green and Jonathan Kuminga were the only Dubs defenders who had any semblance of success slowing down the reigning MVP.
The Warriors' offense was abysmal in the first quarter. Golden State shot just 30.8% from the field and only had two trips to the free-throw line. Klay Thompson led the team with eight first-quarter points but was forced to the bench after picking up some quick fouls. Yet, the Nuggets only led 26-21 because none of their secondary scorers found a rhythm.
Denver finally extended their lead when Jokić went to the bench at the start of the second quarter. Then, rookie guard Bones Hyland unloaded for the Nuggets, hitting multiple threes and quickly stretching their lead to 17 points.
With the Warriors struggling offensively, their head coach Steve Kerr gave rookie Jonathan Kuminga his first non-garbage time minutes of the series. Kuminga quickly offered some offensive spark, scoring nine points before the end of the second quarter.
Andrew Wiggins was the Warriors' best player in the first half. He blocked a shot and forced two steals defensively while scoring a team-high 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field. With Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole struggling and Thompson limited by foul trouble, Golden State needed someone else to carry the offensive load, Wiggins did his best, but the Warriors still trailed 63-52 at the half.
Thompson started the third quarter hot, scoring 10 points in the first four minutes of the half, and it set the stage for an explosive offensive second half. The Warriors' defense struggled to slow down Denver in the third quarter, but their defensive intensity increased in the fourth.
Golden State slowly cut the lead down to single digits and eventually brought themselves back within one possession in the final minutes. Green fouled out, removing their most impactful defender from the game. Still, Curry scored five straight points with less than two minutes remaining in regulation to give the Dubs a brief two-point lead, but Jokić immediately answered with an equalizer.
After a Thompson miss, Monte Morris gave the Nuggets a 123-121 lead with less than a minute remaining. The Warriors' inbound play fell apart, leading to a horrible turnover. Needing a stop, the Warriors left Will Barton open in the corner for three, who hit the dagger.
Curry led the Warriors with 33 points, Thompson scored 32 in just 30 minutes, and Wiggins finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Green recorded 13 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and a game-high +18 plus/minus.
The Warriors will now look to finish the series on their home court on Wednesday, April 27th at 7:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.
No Twitch post-game show today.