sbnation.com photo: Warriors continue their skid as they lose to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night at Chase Center in San Francisco
By Jerry Feitelberg
San Francisco- The Warriors welcomed back Damion Lee and Marquese Chriss to the team Thursday night. Lee is no longer a two-way player. He signed a three-year contract with the club on Wednesday. Chriss was waived to make room for Lee.
None of the other 29 teams signed him and the Warriors were able to sign him to a two-way contract. With those two young men in the lineup, the Warriors had to face the Denver Nuggets at the Chase Center. The Nuggets, coached by the Warriors former assistant coach Mike Malone, own the second-best record in the Western Conference.
The Nuggets were missing three key players Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, and Jamal Murray. Those three players score about 41 points a game. The Warriors were without three key players, too. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevon Looney were not available.
The young Warriors gave the Nuggets a much tougher battle than they imagined. The Warriors led most of the way until late in the fourth quarter. The Warriors didn’t fold. They clawed their way back to tie the game and send it to overtime. The Nuggets, with three very tall players, were able to hold off the Warriors to win the game 134-131.
The Nuggets grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first quarter on the first bucket of the game. The Warriors made three threes to lead 9-3. They outplayed the Nuggets and finished the first quarter leading 34-19. The Warriors continued to hold the led for the entire second period. The Warriors offense stalled and they committed too many turnovers.
The Nuggets went on a 16-4 run to close the gap to 46-41. Alec Burks, D’Angelo Russell led the Warriors on a 13-2 run to finish the quarter leading 62-45. Russell, with 12, and Damian Lee, with 11, paced the Warrior offense.
The Nuggets, determined not to lose to Golden State, outscored the Warriors 28-23 in the third quarter. They cut the lead to eight 79-71, but the Warriors made buckets near the end of the period to lead 85-73 after three periods of play.
The Nuggets upped the ante in the fourth quarter. They had their two bigs, Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee, on the floor at the same time. The Nuggets wanted to get the ball into the hands of Will Barton and Malik Beasley. Barton and Beasley were on fire and they were making threes. The Nuggets defense did its job as they held to 28 points while they scored 40. Denver took a lead late in the game but the Warriors found a way to tie the game and send it to overtime.
The Nuggets showed why they are one of the best teams in the NBA. They made the first basket in the extra stanza. They increased the lead to seven 128-121 when Will Barton knocked down a three. The w’s trailed by six when Damion Lee connected on a three and Draymond Green made two free throws to cut the deficit to one 132-131 with 9.9 seconds left to play. Damion Lee missed a three that would have tied the game, but time ran out and the Nuggets prevailed 134-131.
Game Notes and Stats- The Warriors probably played their best game of the year. The Warriors coaching staff had to be impressed with the effort of his young team. The fans at the Chase Center realized that the team was making progress. It didn’t help that it was the Warriors tenth loss in a row. Many people are saying that the Warriors will be so much better next year when Curry and Thompson return.
Here are some of the positives that the people watched Thursday night. The Warriors had seven players in double-figures. The team made 20 threes. They moved the ball well and recorded 36 assists. The negatives were the 18 turnovers and losing the rebounding battle 50-4.
Alec Burks led the club with 25 points. Lee had 21, Russell 19, Glenn Robinson 17, Eric Paschall 16 ( 12 in the 4th quarter), Jodan Poole, and Willie Cauley-Stein each had 10.
Will Barton, the well-known Warrior killer, paced the Nuggets with 31. Barton made seven threes in ten tries. Malik Beasley posted 27 points and he made five threes. Jokis had a double-double with 23 points and 12 board. Mason Plumlee also had a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. The third big man, Michael Porter, Jr. recorded a double-double, too. He had 18 points, 10 points, and five assists. He made three threes in three tries.
With the loss, the Warriors are now 9-34. Denver’s record improved to 29-12.