The Golden State Warriors have entered the All-Star break on a somber note, falling to the Denver Nuggets behind a Monte Morris buzzer-beating game-winner.
The Warriors controlled the game for the majority but were unable to land the knockout punch, ultimately allowing the Nuggets to make a run late in the game.
A Monte Morris 3-point game-winner sunk the Golden State Warrior’s hearts, Denver rallying from a 16-point third-quarter deficit to defeat Golden State 117-116.
The Warriors shot the ball poorly from deep throughout the course of the game, knocking down just 10 of their 34 three-point attempts (29.4%). But led by some crafty finishes from Stephen Curry, the Dubs were able to remain efficient as they shot over 50% from the field.
It allowed them to maintain a reasonable lead through the first three and a half quarters, propelled by a 33-25 first quarter. But with their reigning MVP Nikola Jokic running rampant against a lack of size on the Warrior interior, Denver was able to remain in striking distance.
As the game wore on, the Nuggets’ reliance on Jokic increased as did the Warriors’ inability to handle him. But the Warriors still led by eight with under three minutes to play, largely thanks to some big rebounds and tough shot-making from Otto Porter Jr.
Then came a game-changing ploy from Nuggets coach Michael Malone; Denver began intentionally hacking Kevon Looney, sending him to the free throw line where he ultimately went 3-8 on the night. It should be acknowledged that it was a tough predicament for Steve Kerr, knowing full well he needed his starting center out there to at least try to make things difficult for Jokic.
It inspired an offensive run for Denver while simultaneously taking Golden State out of their offensive rhythm. After the hack-a-Looney ploy began with 2:50 to play, the Nuggets went on an 11-2 run.
That sequence culminated with a Morris layup that gave Denver their first lead of the entire game with just 14.9 seconds to play. But the Nuggets guard fouled Curry on the other end, the mid-range jump shot falling as Curry converted the three-point play.
It set up an anxious final play as Denver needed a two to tie or a three to win with just over five seconds remaining. Jokic accepted the inbounds pass and dribbled middle, Looney staying well in front of him the entire time.
Unfortunately Curry, in his attempt to try and help Looney, sagged off Morris just enough. Jokic found his point guard who buried the dagger to silence the Chase Center crowd. One notable absentee on the final possession was Gary Payton II who recorded a career-high six steals in the game.
Curry will be kicking himself for his defensive lapse, despite leading the Warriors with 25 points and six assists. It was an even offensive production for Golden State who had seven players score in double digits.
They certainly missed Draymond Green on the defensive end, with the team hopeful of a nearing return as the season pauses for the All-Star break.