The cards sure were stacked against the Warriors on Thursday night at Ball Arena. On the second night of a back-to-back and down two stars, the Warriors went into battle against the kings of the Western Conference this season, who are powered by a Joker.
It was too much for the Warriors to handle, resulting in a 134-117 loss to the Denver Nuggets.
Klay Thompson continued to sit the second night of a back-to-back, but he surprisingly was joined by another big name. Draymond Green, who originally was listed as questionable with right foot soreness, was a late scratch with right calf soreness. What already was going to be a tough matchup turned into crawling out of a hole before tipoff.
But the Warriors responded well. They couldn't miss from deep early on, shot 50.6 percent from the field and made half of their 38 3-point attempts. Still, it wasn't enough against the Nuggets.
Steph Curry, after playing 43 minutes the night before, played another 33 and scored 28 points. Curry went 10-for-17 from the field and 5-for-10 from 3-point range. Jordan Poole added 22 points while going 8-for-15 overall and 4-for-8 from deep, also adding five assists, three rebounds and one steal.
Nuggets star Nikola Jokic recorded his 17th triple-double, finishing with 22 points, 16 assists and 13 rebounds. The Nuggets are now 17-0 when he tallies a triple-double this season.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors' second straight loss that drops them back to .500 at 26-26.
Kuminga Continues to Impress
Start him or bring him off the bench. It doesn't matter right now. Either way, Kuminga is going to impact the game.
He had his latest chance to prove himself as a starter against what has been the best team in the Western Conference, and Kuminga came out on fire. Kuminga scored 10 points in the first quarter while going 4-for-4 from the field, made his only 3-point attempt and added three rebounds and a block.
With his combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism, it's all about taking advantage of mismatches for Kuminga. That's exactly what he did with Jokic on him in the first quarter. Kuminga was under control, Jokic was on skates and the 20-year-old gave Golden State two more points.
Kuminga wound up playing 32 minutes and scored 17 points. He missed only two of his nine shot attempts, made both of his 3-pointers and added seven rebounds and two assists.
Kuminga in seven starts this season now is averaging 12.4 points on a 45.2-percent clip and 42.3 percent beyond the arc.
Big Jim Sighting
For the first time in 2023, James Wiseman found himself on the court in an NBA game. All he had to do was face the first-place Nuggets and their two-time NBA MVP. And, he held his own.
In his first stint, Wiseman played six minutes and was a plus-5 with three points and one rebound. His first shot attempt finished a strong 3-point play after catching a deep pass from Poole and playing through contact.
Following those six minutes, Wiseman was all ears on the bench being coached up by Draymond about the young big man's foul on Jokic.
Wiseman played 16 minutes, his most since Dec. 21. The young 7-footer was a team-high plus-7 with nine points and two rebounds. He also went 3-for-4 from the field and made all three of his free throws.
For so long, opposing teams feared playing the Warriors in the third quarter as much as any other nightmare. It was a lock the Warriors were going to play ferocious defense, make shots in bunches and play smart basketball. Not so much this season. Thursday night's loss was the latest example.
One night after handing out turnovers like candy on Halloween, the Warriors only gave away five turnovers in the first half. Then came the third quarter. They then gave the ball away nine times in the third quarter alone.
How did the Nuggets respond? Oh, just by going on a 16-0 run. The game was tied 85-85 at one point in the third. The score was then 105-91 going into the fourth quarter.
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The Warriors shot 8-for-18 in the third quarter. The Nuggets went 12-for-25. Shooting wasn't the main problem. Getting sloppy with the ball again was.
Golden State gave away 17 turnovers, with 12 of those coming after halftime. Down Draymond and Klay, those numbers aren't going to result in a win.