What we learned from the Warriors’ tough away loss to the Nuggets originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area
The first duel between the NBA’s last two champions, the Warriors and Denver Nuggets, was compromised from the start. Denver was sidelined by star guard Jamal Murray (right hamstring strain), and Golden State was forced to complete a four-game road trip without defensive stars Draymond Green (personal reasons) and Gary Payton II (illness).
But important failures didn’t stop these two Western Conference participants from showing what they’re made of.
It was a battle until the end at Ball Arena, but the Warriors fell 108-105 in the final seconds on Wednesday night.
Steph Curry’s 23 points was a poor night by his standards, as he missed all four of his 2-point attempts. His three turnovers were also the most of any Warrior.
The Nuggets’ two-time MVP Nikola Jokic dominated, scoring 35 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, but the Warriors held him to just five assists and forced three turnovers from the star center.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ loss ahead of a six-game homestand:
Moses Moody continues to meet the moment. With the Warriors missing Green and Payton, Moody was one of the few players who had to step up to face the Nuggets. Moody answered the call, as he often does.
His second 3-pointer of the night tied the game at 70 points apiece in the third quarter, where the Warriors outscored the Nuggets 31-23 and took the lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Where Moody was needed most was his defensive activity on a night when the Warriors didn’t have Green or Payton. After his third three-steal game of the season, Moody picked up a steal on Wednesday, which tied him for 12th on the season. Last season, he didn’t have 12 steals until the Warriors’ 36th game.
Despite only playing 14 minutes, Moody led the Warriors reserves with 10 points. He shot 4 of 7 from the field, 2 of 3 from deep and finished with a plus-7 mark.
It didn’t take long for Steve Kerr to go deep, including his two rookies. Trayce Jackson-Davis was the first two players to come off the bench alongside Chris Paul, and Brandin Podziemski also came off the bench shortly afterwards.
Jackson-Davis was essentially the Warriors’ backup center on a night when the Warriors didn’t have their small-ball center in Green. This is a crucial spot, especially when facing Jokic. Jackson-Davis’ advanced readiness as a four-year college player is a luxury for Kerr to lean on and has helped the young center early in his rookie year.
One of the only downsides to Jackson-Davis’ play early in the season was some issues at the free throw line. He entered the game on the fourth of nine days with free throws, but hit two straight in the third quarter to give the Warriors their first lead since the score was 2-0.
Jackson-Davis’ 18 minutes were his longest this season in a game that wasn’t a blowout. He also delivered, giving the Warriors eight points and two rebounds, showing why he should stay in the rotation.
The group of Paul, Podziemski, Moody, Jonathan Kuminga and Jackson-Davis played 8:08 together and were plus-8, outscoring the Nuggets 22-14.
Curry for the fourth quarter
Fans always want more Curry in the fourth quarter, and Kerr had him off the bench earlier than usual in a closely contested game in which the Warriors have two days off between their next game. At 9:32, Curry had a one-point lead, 84-83, and got back into the game the rest of the way.
It took him just 18 seconds to hit his fifth three-pointer.
But Curry was also deducted two big points when Aaron Gordon had a blocked shot that should have been ruled goalie. Curry and Kerr didn’t like the referees missing what was right in front of them.
However, Curry had seven points on 2 of 7 shooting in the fourth quarter and missed the game-winning layup with five seconds left. He deserves to take a break for the next two days.