DENVER -- It was another tough opponent, another tight game and not nearly as much fortune for the Warriors this time.
Unlike Friday night’s comeback at Utah, the Warriors never were able to take a fourth-quarter lead on the Nuggets and wound up with a 100-98 loss at Pepsi Center.
The Warriors tied the score on a dunk by Andre Iguodala with 1:29 remaining. That was as close as they got. Trailing 99-97 with 9.6 seconds to play, Draymond Green went to the line but made only one of two free-throw attempts.
Jamal Murray split two free throws, and a last-ditch shot by Damian Jones was blocked at the buzzer.
Here are three takeaways from a second consecutive thrilling road game:
Return of the Hamptons 5
They’re not seen as often as they once were, but the Warriors turned the last five minutes over to the “Hamptons 5” lineup: Green at center, Iguodala and Kevin Durant as the forwards, and Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry as the guards.
The score was 95-89 Denver at the time, so the lineup outscored the Nuggets 9-5 down the stretch for a plus-4 advantage.
That wasn’t quite enough, as the Warriors never took a lead.
Coach Steve Kerr said throughout the preseason that he wanted to limit, if not eliminate, Green’s minutes at center. But in each of the last two games, Green has seen time at center.
This is something to watch as the season goes on, as Kerr might have to abandon his plan in certain situations, depending on matchups and the coach's trust.
Defense tremendous early, unsatisfactory late
After limiting the Nuggets to 17 points on 3-of-23 shooting in the first quarter (13.0 percent) -- and some of that was missed open looks -- the Warriors failed to sustain that early success.
Denver scored 83 points over the final three quarters, while shooting 32 of 63 (50.8 percent).
Nuggets guard Gary Harris was particularly potent, following a 0-of-3 first quarter by going 11 of 17 over the final three and scoring a team-high 28 points.
What happened? Two things. First, the Warriors had difficulty defending without fouling -- the Nuggets shot 42 free throws. Second, the Warriors too often failed to execute their defensive switches, resulting in open looks for Denver.
The Warriors got away with it, but this is not sustainable.
Trouble with the 3-ball
The Warriors made just 17 3-pointers, on 45 attempts, in their first two games, while opponents dropped in 29. The totals were no better this time, and the percentage was worse.
They missed 16 of their first 18 shots from beyond the arc and finished the game 7 of 29 (24.1 percent). Through three games, the only player with more than two 3-pointers is Curry, who is 16 of 34.
Unlike many teams, most notably the Rockets, the Warriors don’t hunt 3-pointers. Still, they’re a significant component of their offense.
“We don’t actually have a formula or scold guys for making rhythm 17-footers,” Kerr said before the game. “We actually pat them on the back. We’re different from some teams.”
The 3-pointers will start falling for players not named Curry. Until they do, the road to winning games will be rougher.