If the Warriors’ hands are red and burning, it’s because of the desperate clinging they did for four quarters and an OT.
After racing out to a 19-point first- and third-quarter lead that evaporated in a torrid Denver fourth quarter, the Warriors couldn’t stay with the bigger, better and more veteran Nuggets, falling 134-131 in overtime at Chase Center on Thursday night, their season-worst 10th straight defeat.
In truth, they did well just to send it to overtime, Eric Paschall draining a dramatic 3 with 15 seconds left to give them an edge. But Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. were too much late, and after a Damion Lee trey at the buzzer rimmed off, the Warriors were left with burnt hands and broken hearts in front of a sellout crowd of 18,064.
They looked so comfortable for much of the game, holding a lead until 1:16 in the fourth, sinking 20 3s to constantly stay afloat. But in that decisive, 40-28 period, they did not know where to turn, shots either not falling or not being put up at all. D’Angelo Russell is the lone go-to option, and he wasn’t on this night, shooting 6-for-19 for 19 points.
Meanwhile, Jokic awoke late, scoring 14 of his 23 points after the third and Porter morphed into the star Denver has craved, adding 10 fourth-quarter points (plus 10 rebounds and five assists total), taking over the game.
Still, the Warriors had a chance to win in regulation, too, but Alec Burks’ buzzer 3 would not fall. Jokic and Porter dominated the extra period, with the Nuggets not looking like the team that had played last night in Denver.
Here are some mostly positive takeaways after the Warriors hung on to the NBA’s worst record at 9-34 in falling to the second best team in the West (29-12).
Damion Lee did not truly miss that much time — he played Friday, under a week ago. But if he was a little amped-up to be in a Warriors jersey again, it showed.
In his first action in three games — since officially earning his multiyear deal that will guarantee he’s a piece for next season’s club — the 27-year-old played inspired.
At an important moment for the game’s momentum, Lee swatted Will Barton’s (31 points) jumper midway through the third quarter. Glenn Robinson III picked it up and ran the length of the court, only to dish off to a Lee who was the only Warrior streaking down the court. His layup extended the Golden State lead to 69-53, and Robinson’s ensuing trey made it a 19-point game — which would not hold.
Lee was also the penetrator who found Paschall out beyond the arc in the closing moments of the fourth. He did some of everything, scoring 21 on just 16 shots, while adding six assists, four rebounds and a block. Despite his missed game-winner, he’s a keeper.
On a night Draymond Green scored six points on eight shots and Russell kept missing, how the hell did the Warriors nearly pull off the upset?
Lee stepped up. Alec Burks (25 points) had a very nice game off the bench. Robinson (17 points) was solid. And yet again, Jordan Poole was a sneaky contributor.
Playing in his best stretch of his rookie season, the shooting guard earned minutes — he even started the fourth before getting yanked for Russell — and never looked overmatched. In just 12 minutes he poured in 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, along with two assists and two rebounds.
Late in the third, Poole got by his defender, drove and found Paschall, who slammed one of the more thunderous dunks of the Warriors’ season.
The next possession, Poole again sliced between defenders, hung in the air and somehow flicked up a lefty prayer that rimmed in. The Warriors’ weakest link is now a contributor.
THIS layup from Jordan Poole 👀👀👀👀 pic.twitter.com/VuKqFqu4BL
— Chris Montano (@gswchris) January 17, 2020
Marquese Chriss entered with 3:38 to go in the first to a big cheer from the crowd.
Sporting a mask — he broke his nose Jan. 2 against Minnesota, the team said — Chriss wasted no time to get the fans to stand up again. The Warriors’ first possession with him on the court was a fastbreak that finished with a thunderous Chriss dunk.
He did not play much, just 11 minutes while scoring four points, but he looked at home again.