Resting four of their top six players, as a fifth sat out with a suspension, the Warriors were hoping to steal a win over the Nuggets at Pepsi Center in Denver.
The Warriors had numerous chances to pull it out, perhaps more than anyone had a rightful reason to expect, before fading over the final seven minutes Friday night and taking a 114-103 loss.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr decided Friday morning to rest starters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and Andrew Bogut, as well as key reserve Andre Iguodala. Backup forward/center Marreese Speights sat as a result of a league-mandated one-game suspension without pay.
So this was, more than anything, something of a moral victory for the B team -– or least most of it.
Justin Holiday, starting in place of Thompson, finished with a team-high 23 points. Five other Warriors scored in double figures, as Leandro Barbosa had 14 and James Michael McAdoo put in 16, David Lee totaled 13 and Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston finished with 12 each.
The loss snapped a five-game win streak for the Warriors (51-13), who were outrebounded (52-35) and outshot 50 percent to 42.4 percent.
Denver (25-41) was led by forwards Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried, each of whom finished with 24 points.
Holiday delivered offense when practically no one else did. He also delivered when a few of his teammates decided to produce.
Holiday scored 14 points in the first half, when the Warriors shot 39.1 percent. With only McAdoo pitching in (12 points) before intermission, they trailed by eight (62-54).
Holiday came back to score 9 points in the fourth quarter, during which the Warriors went up as much as seven (96-89, 7:21 left to play).
The Warriors took a 96-89 lead with 7:21 to play before going cold and failing to defend. The Nuggets responded with a 17-5 run, going up 108-101 with two minutes left and taking control.
Denver finished the game on a 25-7 run.
Bogut, Curry, Iguodala and Thompson all sat for reasons of rest.
The Warriors returned to Oakland immediately after the game, where on Saturday night they play host to the New York Knicks at Oracle Arena.