ORACLE ARENA — Four days of rest appeared to do the Warriors no good whatsoever, as a sluggish Golden State squad stumbled Wednesday night against the Denver Nuggets 123-116.
Behind a fourth quarter surge from Nate Robinson — and a Warriors final-minute breakdown — the Nuggets took advantage of the out-of-rhythm Golden State team.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson told SFBay blaming the loss on the long rest wasn’t an excuse he was ready to use:
“We were bad. Defensively that’s as bad as it gets. Four guys score over 20 and one guy gets 24 rebounds … It was a bad display by us.”
Golden State’s strong 7-0 start — including a three from Klay Thompson and a dunk from Andrew Bogut — was a distant memory by the end of the first quarter as the Nuggets took the lead and continued to shoot over 60 percent from the field heading into the second frame.
Despite spurts of strong Golden State defense, Denver’s first-half seven-man rotation continued to knock down shots, while the Warriors were forced to work hard for every look.
The threes were not falling for the Warriors, who went 2-of-9 in the first quarter and then just 1-of-4 in the second. The Nuggets, behind 18 first-half points from Randy Foye, went into halftime with a 65-58 lead.
After making just one shot in the first half — on his own bobblehead night — Harrison Barnes sparked the Warriors offense, knocking down back-to-back threes midway through the third quarter.
Curry followed suit, hitting a deep three and a pair of free throws to cut the Nuggets lead to just two.
But once the game was tied at 80-80 late in the third, the Nuggets went on an 11-2 run for a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said that even though the Warriors went on runs, his team’s timing was perfect and they were able to sustain anything Golden State threw at them:
“The momentum changed hands several times throughout the game but we played with poise and confidence and made the plays we needed to make in order to win the game.”
With just over three minutes to play it looked like Nate Robinson would lead to Nuggets to victory with his 14 fourth quarter points. But after a Curry three and a dunk from David Lee, the Warriors cut Nuggets lead to to just one.
Lee took the ball with just over one minute left and was fouled by Robinson on his way to the basket. Making good on both free throws, the Warriors took the lead 116-115 with 1:13 on the clock and the crowd on their feet.
But the Warriors crumbled in the final minute of the game. J.J. Hickson, hit a jumper, stole the ball on the following possession as Curry lost his handle, broke away for a dunk and finished the night with 13 points and a staggering 24 rebounds.
With an opportunity to cut the lead, Curry missed a shot with just seconds left. Curry said defensively they didn’t show up and that the bad possession to finish the game was obviously disappointing:
“We let them get hot at the wrong times. Every time we made a run they made a run of their own and we couldn’t find a way to get the stops.”
The Warriors, now 25-15 overall, head out on back-to-back road games against Oklahoma City and New Orleans before returning to Oracle on Monday to face the East-leading Pacers.
Earlier in the day, the Warriors announced they had acquired guards Jordan Crawford and guard-forward MarShon Brooks from Boston in a three-team deal that sent Toney Douglas to the Heat and Miami center Joel Anthony to Boston.
Warriors GM Bob Myers said Golden State was interested in creating a cushion at the point guard position since, for whatever reason, Toney Douglas was not flourishing in that role.
The Warriors’ bench has been struggling, and the ideal situation for the team is that the bench will not only be able to maintain leads but increase them as well.
Myers told SFBay Golden State is a little over $2 million under the luxury tax threshold, but there is no ownership mandate that says if the right deal comes along they won’t take it:
“If a deal presents itself that we feel will improve us in a significant way, we’ll go into the tax. But you’re smart about going into the tax.”
Jackson added he’s looking forward to having the ball handling skills and scoring ability of Crawford as well as giving Brooks an opportunity.
Crawford, 25, appeared in 39 games with Boston this season (35 starts), averaging 13.7 points, a career-high 5.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds per contest, leading the Celtics in assists.
Crawford was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week for the week ending December 8, averaging 23.3 points on 61.0 percent shooting to go along with 6.7 assists and 3.0 rebounds over three games, including a 23-point effort against the New York Knicks on December 8 in which he connected on a career-high six three pointers.
Brooks, 24, has appeared in 10 games with Boston this season, averaging 3.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 7.3 minutes per contest.
The Nuggest have won six of their last seven games, while handing the Warriors just their second loss in their last 12 contests. … Denver had four 20-plus point scorers (Wilson Chandler, Randy Foye, Ty Lawson, and Nate Robinson) the first team to have four 20-pont scorers against the Warriors since the Wizards did so April 6, 2010. … The Nuggets shot 54.2 percent from the field, the highest an opponent has shot against the Warriors this season. … David Lee tallied his 13th 20/10 game of the year (22nd double-double) with a game-high 28 points to go with 11 rebounds hitting 12-for-13 at the free throw line. … J.J. Hickson hauled in a career-high 24 rebounds, the most anyone has grabbed vs. the Warriors this season.