Jordan Bell has some bounce pic.twitter.com/IIojJqHap9
— KNBR (@KNBR) December 24, 2017
OAKLAND–It was the perfect trap game.
A night after downing an up-and-coming Lakers team thanks to a late fourth quarter surge, and two days ahead of the team’s Christmas showdown against the Cavaliers, the Warriors were tasked with defending their home floor against a solid, if unspectacular, Nuggets squad without the services of their two top point guards and their starting center.
Instead of rising to the occasion and powering through, the Warriors turned in their worst offensive outing of the season and produced an absolute snoozer of a loss that sent fans to the exits in droves with more than three minutes remaining in a 96-81 defeat.
Though injuries didn’t matter much in the midst of Golden State’s 11-game win streak, the absence of Steph Curry was noticeable from the start and through until the end of Saturday evening’s matchup that served as the team’s first defeat of the month. With Curry sidelined due to an ankle injury that will almost certainly keep him out of Monday’s NBA Finals rematch, the Warriors didn’t have the spark plug who fires up their offensive pace, their sharpshooter who can get hot on the coldest of winter nights, and the player almost no NBA team has figured out a true counter for.
While Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson have largely fought off the sense of complacency the Warriors could have developed with Curry off the floor for an extended period, neither player had their shooting stroke in form against the Nuggets. Thompson began his night 0-for-9 from beyond the arc, while Durant was the team’s least efficient starter through the first three quarters, posting a minus-11 as Golden State entered the fourth quarter trailing by a double digit margin.
he knew this was going to happen about .8 seconds before anyone else pic.twitter.com/xJjvbsUKNa
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) December 24, 2017
The deficit existed thanks to a strong defensive effort from a Denver team also coming off a back-to-back, but also due to the Warriors’ inability to find any sort of a pulse from beyond the arc. After Draymond Green hit a 26-foot jump shot just 21 seconds in the game, Golden State missed its next 20 attempts from distance as a Nick Young three-pointer with 1:51 to play in the third quarter finally snapped the team’s 20-attempt stretch of futility.
After a dismal showing through the first three quarters, the outlook didn’t improve much for Golden State to start the fourth quarter. Andre Iguodala, who battled flu-like symptoms toward the end of the week, didn’t have enough bounce in his step to throw down a dunk attempt while Young hit the side of the backboard with another attempt from long range. Up until a David West layup with just over nine minutes remaining in the game, the Nuggets had held the Warriors to just 62 points and had opened up a 16-point advantage.
West’s layup did ignite a bit of a turnaround for Golden State, as Thompson finally nailed his first three-pointer of the night with under eight minutes to play to extend his NBA-best streak to 87 consecutive games with a three-point make.
Klay with the trey pic.twitter.com/d3fWxCSmSy
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) December 24, 2017
However, the surge that came for Golden State on Friday against the Lakers never appeared against the Nuggets, as the Warriors wound up shooting just 38 percent from the floor and 11 percent from beyond the arc in the loss.