There is no tougher place in the NBA to mount a comeback than in the thin air of Denver, so when the Warriors trailed by double digits early Tuesday night, there was a sense of inevitability.
Though they hung around the Nuggets enough to make things interesting, the persistent deficits were too much to overcome, leaving the Warriors with a 114-104 loss for their efforts.
Stephen Curry scored 35 points to lead the Warriors, who dropped to 6-6.
Here are three takeaways from the Warriors’ first consecutive losses since the opening week of the season:
Leaders lose their way
Draymond Green and Curry have piled up numerous individual accolades while also winning at the highest levels. They are this team’s exemplars.
They were not so exemplary on this night. The two veterans fumbled balls, threw errant blind passes and committed silly fouls. They combined for 12 turnovers, a couple of which blunted momentum.
Another veteran leader, Kent Bazemore, committed three.
The Warriors finished with 19 turnovers, off which the Nuggets scored 17 points.
No matter how many points Curry scores, or how efficiently he does it, he can’t afford seven giveaways. No matter how Green shoots, he is this team’s playmaking X-factor and has to be on point for the Warriors to thrive on offense. He can’t have five turnovers.
Both had more than few moments they’d like to have back because they know how tough it is win with so many mistakes.
Rebounding issues persist
It was apparent over the last three games that the Warriors had addressed their rebounding issues.
After winning that category in consecutive games for the first time this season, and barely losing it to the Pacers (50-48), the Warriors reverted to old habits.
Credit Denver for its massive front line, which averages 6-foot-11, for the 50-43 advantage. But Golden State’s problems ran deeper than that. An example: The Warriors starting front court – Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman and Green – combined for 12 rebounds. Denver’s starting guards combined to pulled 13.
The Warriors have now been outrebounded in nine of their 12 games, including four times by double digits.
How long before they concede that, unless there are roster changes, this will continue to be a problem?
Death by layups
The Warriors missed at least six layups, and it was a team effort, with at least five different players getting close enough to touch the rim but failing to convert. That’s at least 12 points lost.
It’s correctable stuff, but it was fatal in this game.
Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. both missed multiple shots from point-blank range.
Moreover, the easy misses ambushed the efficiency of the two wings. Instead of combining to shoot better than 50 percent from the field, as they could have, they finished 10-of-26.
In a game such as this, with the Warriors falling behind early, the missed layups were demoralizing. They sapped energy. They led to defeat.