ORACLE ARENA — Instead of clinching a playoff spot in front of their home crowd, the Warriors squandered a 20-point lead and let a sub-par team walk away with a win.
While the magic number remains at three, because of tie-breakers, the Warriors could have clinched a playoff berth with a win over Denver.
Instead, the Nuggets front court was given free reign and Kenneth Faried hit the go-ahead shot with just five-tenths of a second left to play.
With 35.9 seconds remaining, Stephen Curry cut the Nuggets lead to just one point. On the other end Evan Fournier missed a three and allowed Curry to come away with the rebound.
Curry then made his way to the basket and hit what many thought was the game ending shot with 4.7 seconds left. But the Manimal had other plans.
Curry said the team waited too long to change the game and the feeling in the locker room was pure disappointment:
“There’s a lot of reasons why this is a terrible feeling in the locker room, we could have taken care of a playoff spot … definitely not how we envisioned the night going.”
An early 20-point Warriors lead slowly dwindled as Denver — led by Timofey Mozgov’s 23 points and career-high 29 rebounds — made good on second chance opportunities.
With 7:52 left in the final frame, Darrell Arthur hit a three to seize the first Nuggets lead at 83-80. What should have been an easy win for the Warriors came down to a fourth quarter battle.
The Warriors took the lead back on a two-handed jam from Andre Iguodala, then made it 93-90 with a jumper from Stephen Curry. But with a bucket, steal and a trey from Randy Foye, the Nuggets were back on top heading into the final moments.
The early lead was just about the only thing the Warriors had going for them and as it drifted away, the Nuggets started stacking the stat sheet. Denver out rebounded Golden State 63-38, scored 27 points off second-chance opportunities, and beat out the Warriors in fast-break points.
Draymond Green — who started in place of an injured David Lee said after getting killed on the boards — takes responsibility for only getting two rebounds and letting down his team.
Green told SFBay he’s not concerned moving forward:
“I’m not worried. I know we can close out games and we’ll be fine. Some people may be worried, but I don’t think many people in this locker room are.”
The Warriors now, 48-30, head out on the road to play the Lakers Friday and the Trail Blazers Sunday before returning for the final home game of the regular season Monday against Minnesota.
Golden State — 1-2 in the season series with the Nuggets — will play its regular season finale on Wednesday in Denver.
The Warriors’ D-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, won their first game of their best-of-three playoff series with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, 140-127, as guard Seth Curry finished with 44 points to go with seven assists while shooting 15-of-20 from the field with 9-of-14 coming from three-point range. … Timofey Mozgov tied a career-high in points (23), while setting a career-high in rebounds (29) for his first career 20-point/20-rebound game , with his 29 rebounds marking an NBA season-high, the most by a Nugget since Kikembe Mutumbo’s 31 boards on March 26, 1996.