The Golden State Warriors have had their five-game winning streak snapped in a hard-fought 120-114 loss to the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena on Christmas Day.
The visitors had their chances in the fourth-quarter, including having a three-point lead early in the period. Yet the Warriors went cold from beyond the arc, while Nuggets' superstar Nikola Jokic knifed his way to the free-throw line relentlessly much to the frustration of Golden State players, coaches and fans.
Stephen Curry's Christmas Day struggles continued, with the Golden State Warriors' superstar limited to just 18 points on 7-21 shooting in the six-point loss
Having historically struggled in Christmas Day games, Stephen Curry was again below his best particularly in the first-half where he had just four points. Still, the Warriors led 54-53 at the main interval thanks to far superior bench production.
Curry got going a little in the second-half, but still finished with just 18 points on 7-21 shooting including 3-13 from beyond the arc. The two-time MVP had entered the game having averaged only 15.3 points on 20.4% three-point shooting in his previous nine Christmas Day games.
Fellow splash brother Klay Thompson was also silent, having entered the game with six consecutive 20-point games. The veteran shooting-guard had nine points on 13 shots, leaving the storied duo with just 27 combined points on 10-34 shooting from the floor.
With Curry and Thompson struggling, it was the returning Andrew Wiggins who provided the impetus to the Warrior offense. The Canadian, who had missed the last two games through illness, had 12 points in the fourth-quarter and 22 for the game in just under 29 minutes off the bench.
While Curry and Thompson couldn't get going, Denver's star pairing of Jokic and Jamal Murray made the big plays in the second-half. With his shot not falling early on, Jokic drew the referees whistle incessantly in making a career-high 18 free-throws.
Many of the foul calls garnered frustration from Warrior fans, so too head coach Steve Kerr who was animated on a number of occasions during the game. After the loss, Kerr went off on some of the decisions, stating, "we're just enabling players to bs their way to the foul line."
Jokic made only four field-goals but finished with 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, with Murray scoring a game-high 28 on 10-18 shooting and 3-5 from beyond the arc. In contrast, Golden State was forced to get scoring from a number of avenues. Dario Saric had 14 points and five rebounds in less than 20 minutes off the bench, while Chris Paul, Jonathan Kuminga and Brandin Podziemski each had 13 points.
The latter had another impressive outing in the marquee matchup, once more doing a bit of everything with nine rebounds, six assists and an eye-opening five steals to go with his 13 points. One of Podziemski's steals came in a highlight snatch and layup on Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon early in the fourth.
Despite the loss, the general positive feel around the franchise should remain amid their recent good form. The Warriors now head back home for six-straight home games, starting on Thursday against the Miami Heat.