Warriors drop game to Denver Nuggets, fall to .500
on November 23, 2010
Monday night’s Golden State Warriors game at Oracle Arena against the visiting Denver Nuggets got off to a sluggish start for both teams, with each shooting just better than 33 percent from the floor. The tight game improved with help from players off the bench, but key starters on both sides shot poorly, and by the end it was Golden State that couldn’t find the mark, losing 106-89.
That left the Warriors staring at a .500 record this season. Although their opening weeks had them 4-1 this year, the Bay Area team now lost six of their last nine games.
The Warriors’ two leading scorers this season, guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, shot just under 35 percent, a sizable drop from their usual number of better than 48 percent. For the Nuggets, leading man Carmelo Anthony struggled to get comfortable as well, shooting a little more than 36 percent into the third quarter. The 26 year old continued to put points on the scoreboard, though, going a perfect 17 for 17 from the foul line before finally ending the game with a season-high 39 points.
“Carmelo is just too good,” said Warriors head coach Keith Smart after the game. “He has the ability to know how to draw fouls. He’s going to make plays and he knows how to make his free throws.”
Both teams limped into the game with 7-6 records. Golden State is still missing forward David Lee, who was injured November 10 and is recovering from two surgeries to remove an infection in his left elbow. Dressed in a blazer, and at points helping coach up his teammates, Lee sat on the bench during last night’s game and is expected to return as early as this upcoming Friday’s game at Memphis. Word came around game time that reserve forward Brandan Wright was experiencing lower back pain and would also miss the game.
The Nuggets were without starting point guard Chauncey Billups, who fractured his nose in their win over New Jersey in Denver on Saturday. A street-clothed Billups was spotted after the game wearing dark sunglasses over the three stitches that ran like rail tracks across the bridge of his nose.
In Billups’ place, second-year player Ty Lawson, a 5’11” guard out of the University of North Carolina, stepped in and contributed 14 points, along with five assists and four rebounds. And Anthony—better known by his nickname, “Melo”—told a group of reporters huddled around him in the visiting locker room that in Billups’ absence, he had planned to take on more responsibility against the Warriors.
“I just felt like I needed to do a little bit more tonight with him not being here,” said the 6’8″ forward. “You know, controlling things a bit more on the offensive end. I needed to be a little more aggressive out there.”
Before the game, Warriors coach Smart had observed that in basketball, like life, aggression tends to be rewarded. “The kids that run to the front of the line and get ice cream normally get two scoops,” said Smart. This may help explain why Anthony made it to the free throw line nine times.
The game itself was a back-and-forth affair in which neither of the two teams led by more than six points, heading into the half. The Nuggets were up by two just before halftime, with 6.2 seconds remaining on the clock, when Ellis—entering the game as the league’s second leading scorer—darted down the court. He let go a three-point heave, as the buzzer sounded, and to the vocal delight of the crowd, he hit nothing but net.
The second half was all Denver, though. Scoring eight of his 19 off the bench, including a couple three-point baskets at key moments, off-season addition Al Harrington provided a nice spark for the Nuggets. When his name was called over the PA system, the former Warrior was loudly booed by the crowd of just over 18,000.
But it was Anthony who ended all hope for the Warriors. With a little under four minutes left in the game and the Nuggets leading by 10, time was expiring on the 24-second shot clock. Anthony had the ball in his hands and looked to drive toward the hoop. He jab-stepped Warriors’ center Andris Biedrins, blew by him for a lay-up, and was fouled by forward Dorell Wright as the shot banked and went in. That put Anthony at the free-throw line for the eighth time in the game, and sent disappointed Warriors fans out of their seats and toward the exits.
Two minutes later, one of Harrington’s three-pointers prompted all but just a few of the Warriors faithful to bail. A lone Denver fan’s screech of “Let’s go Nuggets!” echoed through the emptying arena. The lead grew to 18 as Denver outscored Golden State 55-37 in the second half. The last few seconds ticked off and the final horn blared to formalize the Warriors’ second home loss this season.
Asked at his post-game press conference what the team will do now, having hit the .500 mark, Coach Smart simply said it is time to go back to work.
“You can’t cry over spilled milk,” said Smart. “Nothing you can do. You’ve got to get ready for the next game. You talk about what you want, but sometimes you don’t get what you want. You’ve got to go out and work for it a little bit harder.”
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