Fourth-quarter struggles allow Warriors to get the best of the Nuggets

Mar 10, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) controls the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Jeff Green (32) guards in the fourth quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors snapped the Denver Nuggets four-game winning streak after closing the fourth quarter on a 13-0 run to get a 113-102 win. Steph Curry had 34 points and became the 49th player in NBA history to reach 20,000 career points.

“This was very uncharacteristic of us to be outscored 13-0 to close the game,” Michael Malone said. “That’s not what we’re used to seeing. We have been a team that has excelled in close games, in clutch games and won a ton of close games so tonight was something that we’ll watch from film and we’ll learn from it.”

In his players’ defense, they did just play four games in five nights and the fatigue certainly set in but Malone doesn’t make any excuses for when his team loses.

“We don’t subscribe to readily available excuses,” Malone said. “They came in here, got the job done and they beat us. First half I thought we were terrific. We were ready to play in the first half. I thought our crowd was great. I give our fans a lot of credit. Great atmosphere. They gave us a lot of energy and life tonight and were unable to sustain it in that second half.”

Nikola Jokic put up 16 points and 10 rebounds in the first half and as a team, the Nuggets dominated the paint 34-24. But everything changed in the second half.

Denver had as much as a 14-point lead in the third quarter until Curry erupted for 18 points and led Golden State on an 11-3 run to take an 88-84 lead. The Warriors outscored the Nuggets 37-24 in the quarter and held them to 44% shooting from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc.

The Nuggets still had life left in them entering the fourth quarter and decided to take a page out of their last game’s book and run their two-man game between Jokic and Monte Morris which was incredibly successful in their game against the Kings on Wednesday night. Together they went on an 8-0 run to tie it up at 98 with 5:24 left to go.

Then Denver started getting careless with the ball and committed three costly turnovers down the stretch that fueled Golden State’s fast break. Curry knocked down consecutive baskets and then Jordan Poole was on fire from downtown for six straight points. The Nuggets just could not recover.

Poole finished the game with 21 points, five rebounds and seven assists while both Klay Thompson and Jonathan Kuminga put up 18 apiece.

Jokic had an off night for his standards with 23 points on 9 of 21 shooting from the field and 0 of 8 from beyond the arc. He started the game a perfect 7 of 7 from 2-point range but went just 2 of 14 the rest of the way. He also had 12 rebounds, nine assists and five turnovers. Morris added 19 points.

Turnovers have been the Nuggets biggest downfall this season especially in the closing minutes of Thursday nights game. Against the Warriors they committed 13 total turnovers which led to 26 points. It definitely wasn’t the Nuggets best performance of the season but for them it’s always next game up mentality and finishing strong for the remainder of the season.

“I just try to look at the next game,” Morris said. “I’ve been around long enough where playoffs I know you got to take a game but there’s still another game at the end of the day and you can get side tracked on that. These 15 games a lot can change in 15 games so if we’re looking ahead too far it’ll bite us down the line so I think our focus is next game.”

The Nuggets have 15 games left in the regular season and are hoping to hang onto the No. 6 seed so they can bypass the play-in games which are seeds 7-10. They are still 2.5 games in front of the Timberwolves.

Denver faces the Raptors at home on Saturday and then start a three-game road trip against the Sixers, Wizards and Cavaliers.

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