Improbably, they were successful in their quest.
Power forward Kenneth Faried hit a 10-foot turnaround jumper in the
lane with five-tenths of a second remaining Thursday night, lifting
the undermanned Nuggets to a stunning, 100-99 victory that prevented
the Warriors from clinching a playoff spot.
Playing six men down due to injury and with just nine players in
uniform, the Nuggets managed to pull out what coach Brian Shaw
labeled their best win of the season.
Denver rallied after point guard Stephen Curry's 5-foot flip shot
put Golden State up 99-98 with 4.7 seconds left.
Following a timeout, Faried took an inbounds pass and drove into the
key defended by Warriors forward Draymond Green. Faried then spun
and connected from in front of the hoop to stun a Golden State crowd
that was preparing to celebrate a return to the postseason, where
the Warriors upset the Nuggets in the first round a year ago.
"I was thinking: Go to the basket ... dunk one in," Faried said of
his game-winning move. "(Green) played me perfect, but I was able to
spin off him and get off a good shot."
Faried's game-winner capped an 18-point, 17-rebound performance that
was dwarfed by a 23-point, 29-rebound explosion from Nuggets center
Timofey Mozgov. The 29 rebounds were an NBA single-game high this
Faried was more than happy to shine the spotlight on his teammate
"I'm excited about it," Faried said about Mozgov's career game. "I
don't care about my stats. I want go hug him."
Winning for the second time in two nights, the Nuggets (35-44)
dominated the boards, outrebounding Golden State 63-38. The Warriors
were playing without starting power forward David Lee, who has nerve
inflammation in his right leg.
"The last time I had 20 rebounds, Kenny said, 'You can do 30,'"
Mozgov said. "Hey, you never know. Some games are just like this.
Everything goes right."
The loss dropped the Warriors 2 1/2 games behind the Portland Trail
Blazers in the race for the fifth playoff spot in the Western
Conference. Golden State (48-30) would clinch a spot in the
postseason with a win in one of its final four games.
Nuggets shooting guard Randy Foye backed Faried and Mozgov with 20
points, hitting four 3-pointers. He also had seven rebounds and
Denver outscored Golden State 30-18 from behind the 3-point arc.
"We've had a couple of good wins," said Shaw, recalling in
particular a 116-115 home victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in
which Foye hit a game-winning 3-pointer. "We celebrated that one on
"But tonight, given the circumstances, given how Kenneth struggled
early on, with all the missed free throws ... this is it."
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Curry had 24 points and backcourt mate Klay Thompson 21 for the
Warriors, but each shot just 8-for-19. Center Jermaine O'Neal came
off the bench to add 12 points.
"It's very frustrating, especially being in a position to clinch,"
Green said. "To drop this one, especially at home, is very
frustrating. To get manhandled like that on the boards is
frustrating as well, and I take a lot of credit for that, having two
rebounds. That's unacceptable."
Held to 15 points in the first quarter and down by as many as 20 in
the first half, the Nuggets rallied in the third period to get
within 75-73. Denver took its first lead of the game at 83-80 on a
3-pointer by backup forward Darrell Arthur with 7:50 remaining in
Baskets by Mozgov and backup guard Evan Fournier helped Denver go up
90-85 with 6:08 to go. However, the Warriors immediately countered
with six consecutive points, the last two on a dunk by forward Andre
Iguodala that gave Golden State a one-point lead with 4:53 left and
set up the exciting finish.
"We had them," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "We started giving
away one possession, started giving away a rebound or a turnover or
a bad shot or selfish play, and you look up and a 20-point game
becomes a 10-point game. And a 10-point game becomes a two-point
game. ... We gave it back. Just unfortunate."
NOTES: Denver C Timofey Mozgov's 23 points and 29 rebounds were both
career highs. ... The 29 rebounds were the most by a Nugget since C
Dikembe Mutombo had 31 against the Charlotte Hornets on March 26,
1996. ... The Nuggets' total rebounds (63) and offensive rebounds
(25) were both highs for a Warriors opponent this season. ... The
Nuggets outscored the Warriors 27-4 on second-chance points. ...
When the Warriors and Nuggets met in the first round of the playoffs
last season, it marked the 10th consecutive year Denver reached the
postseason. That streak will end this year. ... The Nuggets are
35-44, which would be a half-game out of the final playoff position
in the Eastern Conference. ... The six injured players left home by
the Nuggets included four of their top six scorers — PG Ty Lawson
(sprained left ankle), SF Wilson Chandler (strained left groin), PF
J.J. Hickson (torn right ACL) and PG Nate Robinson (sprained left
knee). PF Danilo Gallinari (torn left ACL) and C JaVale McGee
(broken left leg) also missed the game.
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