It was going to take something special to defeat the Denver Nuggets at their place.
Unfortunately, the Golden State Warriors lost their magic after three quarters.
The Warriors wasted a late, double-digit lead before falling 116-105 to the Nuggets in Denver on Sunday night. It was only the second time this season the Warriors have lost when entering the fourth quarter with a lead.
The Warriors controlled most of the game, utilizing premier shooting to lead by as many as 10 points with the final minute of the third quarter and 87-79 heading into the fourth quarter before falling apart.
“We were really feeling good at the time, taking care of the basketball and getting quality looks at the other end,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We gave them life and they capitalized on it.”
Golden State fell apart in the final frame as the Nuggets opened the fourth quarter with a 19-2 run, scoring on easy buckets and taking advantage of Warriors turnovers. The Nuggets outscored the Warriors 37-18 in the last quarter.
It appeared as if it was going to be a special night shooting that would overcome the other areas in which the Warriors were outplayed.
The Warriors shot 51.8 percent on the night but finished with 18 turnovers on the night.
“We didn’t take care of the basketball to start the fourth quarter,” Jackson said. “We gave them life by being careless with the basketball. This is a team that feeds off that.”
Curry’s big night
Curry hit seven three-pointers for the fourth time in his career and finished with 29 points on 11-for-18 shooting. He missed just two three-pointers (7-for-9) and added seven assists. Curry’s career-high in three-pointers is eight on Dec. 21 against the Charlotte Bobcats.
After Denver made their run in the final frame, Curry gave the Warriors a quick surge with back-to-back three pointers to bring the game to 100-97 with just more than six minutes remaining. Denver then pushed back with a 16-8 run to end the game.
Curry shot 8-for-10 from the field and 5-for-6 from three-point range in the first half.
Big night, bigger scare
It didn’t look good in the third quarter when Curry drove left, spun back right and collapsed to the ground in pain. It appeared his knee was hyper extended or banged on the spin with a defender.
After the fall, he rolled for a moment on the floor while holding his knee before limping down to the defensive end when the Warriors called a timeout. Curry remained in the game after the timeout and appeared to move fine throughout the remainder of the game.
Numbers that tell the story
Golden State has now lost three of its last four games and return home to face the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
The Nuggets shot 21-for-27 from the free throw line while the Warriors failed to reach the line, finishing 6-for-8.
Golden State was also outrebounded 44-39, allowing 14 offensive rebounds. The Nuggets outscored the Warriors 58-32 in the paint.
Danilo Gallinari scored 21 points while adding eight rebounds and six assists to lead Denver. Nuggets guard Ty Lawson scored 20 points and had five assists.
Fact or Fiction tweet
@sneakerist said: 1-3 in the last 4... I'd say they've cooled down a bit #warriorstalk
Highs and lows
David Lee finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. He now has 23 double-doubles, trailing league-leader Zach Randolph who has 24.
Klay Thompson had five turnovers to go with a 1-for-7 three-point shooting night. Jarrett Jack also committed five turnovers but did add 10 points and eight assists.
“Two of our backcourt guys have five turnovers, 10 turnovers together; you’re not going to survive that on the road,” Jackson said.
The Warriors led 54-52 at halftime and have now fallen to 19-3 when leading at the half.
The Warriors shot 52.3 percent at the half and Nuggets shot just 40.4 percent, but Denver stayed within reach thanks to nine offensive rebounds.
Andris Biedrins sat out with a strained right groin for the second consecutive game, leaving Festus Ezeli as the only active center.
Ezeli played 16 minutes, tallying five fouls, five rebounds and scoring 0 points. He did have a brilliant block in the first quarter, slapping away the ball at the height of Andre Iguodala’s one-handed dunk attempt.