Monte Morris drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift the Denver Nuggets to a 117-116 win over the Golden State Warriors at Chase Center on Wednesday night. Golden State had as much as a 16-point lead and then Denver took its first lead of the game with 14.9 seconds left.
“If you’re talking the NBA, that’s for sure my first game winner in the NBA,” Monte Morris said. “I had three or four in college but it’s definitely one of my biggest shots of my career. It felt good. I kind of knew it was good once I let it go. I just didn’t know if I got it off in time.”
Morris had two big plays in the last 20 seconds of regulation. He came up with a defensive rebound and scored to give Denver a 114-113 lead. Steph Curry then responded with a mid-range jumper at the other end and shot a free throw which gave Golden State the 116-114 advantage with 5.9 left. Nikola Jokic had the ball in the closing seconds and it looked like he was about to take the shot to tie it but he found Morris wide open for the triple.
“The play was obviously to get the ball to Nikola but I knew Nikola is so unselfish when you are open, nine times out of 10 he’s going to find you,” Morris said. “It means a lot [for Jokic to put so much trust in me]. He is so selfless. And it just shows you how much confidence he has in not just me but every one of us that he put in that situation. It means a lot and I take my hat off to him because he puts it all on the line every night for us.”
Big. Game. Tae. 🔒
BUZZER BEATER W. pic.twitter.com/DUZpx8ZRvL
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) February 17, 2022
The reigning MVP put up 35 points on 54% shooting, 17 rebounds and eight assists. He continues to carry the team on his shoulders every night and makes game-winning plays. Morris said his mom texts him everyday telling him he needs to do more to help Jokic.
“My mom, she’s a coach so she always texts me like, y’all need to help Nikola! Help him. Do something. Cut, do something, help him out,” Morris said. “But yeah, he does so much and makes it look effortless but that just shows how great he is but we definitely feel the urge to help him out a little bit because we ask a lot from him.”
Morris was out for three straight games prior to the game against the Warriors due to a concussion. He said the last two days he was cleared to do on court activities but said he was still dealing with minor headaches. It also took some time for him to get into a flow in Wednesday night’s game.
“I definitely wasn’t in rhythm like all night,” Morris said. “I only took six shots and I took three shots to start the fourth so I was still trying to find my rhythm but hey man you never apologize for winning so I’m happy we got the win going into the break.”
Morris finished with 13 points on 4 of 6 shooting from the field and 2 of 4 from 3-point range. Bryn Forbes added 22 points off the bench and hit four 3-pointers.
The Warriors went on a 10-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game 77-61 midway through the third quarter. The Nuggets responded with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to nine points. Jokic had 10 points in the quarter. Denver closed the quarter on an 8-3 run but Golden State still had the 86-78 advantage.
The Nuggets starting heating up from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter shooting 60% while holding the Warriors to 40. But the Warriors kept scoring in other ways and still hung onto a nice lead until Morris knocked down a 3 and Jokic hit a long 2 to get within five points. Jokic had nine, Bryn Forbes had seven off the bench and Austin Rivers added six to help close the quarter on a 14-3 run.
With under two minutes left Forbes scored a layup, Aaron Gordon threw down an alley-oop dunk, and Jokic got the layup to cut the Golden State lead to 113-112. The Warriors missed eight straight points. That’s when Morris came up with a rebound and scored on the fast break to take a 114-113 lead. In Curry fashion, he responded with a mid-range jumper and made a free throw to give the Warriors the 116-114 edge. But the Nuggets had battled too much to let the game slip away. Morris closed it out with the clutch 3-pointer at the buzzer to win.
Denver has now won five of its last six games heading into the All-Star break and only has 24 games left to go for the season. Head coach Michael Malone hopes his guys stay ready in their seven days off.
“I hope our guys enjoy their break but also make sure they get in the gym, stay ready, so we can hit the ground running coming out,” Malone said. “We can’t ease our way into these last 24 games.”
The Nuggets have a 33-25 record and sit comfortably in sixth place in the Western Conference standings. They return back to action on Feb. 24 in Sacramento.