Westbrook's historic effort eliminates Denver, locks in Warriors-Blazers

Westbrook's historic effort eliminates Denver, locks in Warriors-Blazers

For the second straight year, the Warriors will meet the Trail Blazers in the postseason.

And it was set up in dramatic fashion.

Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook, who earlier in Sunday's game in Denver broke Oscar Robertson's single-season triple-double record, hit a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to lift the Thunder past the Nuggets 106-105.

The loss eliminated the Nuggets from playoff contention and allowed Portland to clinch the 8th and final spot in the West.

The Warriors won all four meetings with the Blazers this season:

Nov. 1, 2016 in Portland: Warriors 127, Blazers 104
Dec. 17, 2016 in Oakland: Warriors 135, Blazers 90
Jan. 4, 2017 in Oakland: Warriors 125, Blazers 117
Jan. 29, 2017 in Portland: Warriors 113, Blazers 111

Last year, the Warriors defeated the Blazers in five games in the Western Conference Semifinals.

The NBA playoffs begin next weekend.

Westbrook's game-winner finished off a 50-point, 16-rebound, 10-assist performance, his record-setting 42nd triple-double of the season.


Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 100-98 loss to the Nuggets


Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 100-98 loss to the Nuggets


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.

Based on Instagram, Draymond Green enjoyed the Lakers-Rockets fight


Based on Instagram, Draymond Green enjoyed the Lakers-Rockets fight

What was Draymond Green doing on Saturday night in Denver?

Based on his Instagram, he was watching the Lakers play the Rockets at Staples Center. We know this because soon after the fight broke out between Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo, the three-time All-Star added the following to his story:

[RELATED: Draymond Green's rage by design works wonders for Warriors]

This is right on brand for the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year.

Quick tangent -- after the Warriors' buzzer-beating win over the Jazz on Friday, Draymond was asked about Jonas Jerebko's tip-in.

“Forget the win. Forget the game. My favorite part was he started yelling in their bench’s face," he told reporters. "It's a great moment."

Draymond is one of a handful of players who would give that kind of response. It gives you a look into his psyche, and it's what makes him so unique and special.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller