The bottom had to fall out at some point.
The Warriors were on fire to begin Thursday night’s contest against the Denver Nuggets. Seven different players hit 3-pointers as the Dubs shot 13-of-21 from beyond the arc in the first half. Yet, the Warriors went into the locker room with just one-point lead against the top team in the Western Conference.
Golden State couldn't keep up that pace forever and you had a feeling the Warriors might come crashing back down to earth. In the span of just 3:14 in the third quarter, it happened. Denver dominated with a 16-0 run to take control of an eventual 134-117 victory.
During the game-deciding run, the Warriors had trouble even getting a shot up. Remarkably, they committed more turnovers (six) than attempted shots (four) during the 16-0 deluge. An 85-85 tie turned into a 101-85 game in a flash.
"I thought our guys battled all night," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Then that third quarter was too much. Missing shots and I thought they're defense picked up and we turned it over a few times. They showed why they're the best team in the West right now. They're playing at a high level. The third quarter felt like the difference."
Whether they were sloppy passes or mental lapses, the Warriors turnovers completely killed any momentum they had against the top seed in the West.
Turnovers have been a problem all season long for Golden State, as they entered Thursday’s action averaging 16 turnovers per game, second-worst in the league. Last season, the Warriors (14.3) also ranked 29th in the league in turnovers, but a stronger defense was able to make up for the offensive mistakes. Golden State doesn’t have the same bite this season.
Golden State faced a major challenge without Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Klay is yet to play in consecutive back-to-back games since returning in January 2022, as the Warriors were just a day removed from Wednesday’s overtime loss in Minnesota. Green was a late scratch after experiencing calf tightness before the game. The Nuggets were without explosive wing Aaron Gordon, who many thought was worthy of being named to the West’s All-Star reserves earlier in the day.
Steph Curry suffered a bit of an injury scare in the fourth quarter when he got up slow after being fouled by Nuggets big man Zeke Nnaji while shooting a 3-pointer. Curry also went down hard on his right knee in the second quarter.
After playing 42 minutes in Minnesota, Curry scored 28 points in 33 minutes on Thursday. Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic scored 22 points with 14 rebounds and 16 assists, as the Nuggets moved to 17-0 when he records a triple-double.
Kerr went deep into his rotation, as two-way player Anthony Lamb was inactive. Donte DiVincenzo, Ty Jerome, JaMychal Green, James Wiseman and Moses Moody all got minutes off the bench for Golden State, as Kuminga (17 points) got the start for Draymond.
Thursday’s loss was ugly, but the Warriors have to be lamenting Wednesday’s loss in Minnesota, as they led by as many as 14 before letting the game slip away. Golden State returns to Chase Center after the 1-2 road trip with a 7-20 overall record away from home. Once again, the Warriors (26-26) are back to .500 with 30 games remaining in the regular season.