DENVER — Stephen Curry was wide open for a corner 3 to start the third quarter Monday night in Denver. The ball zipped around the court beautifully before landing in the two-time MVP’s hands.
The sharpshooter let it fly, and the ball sailed 2 feet too long. A rare Curry air ball. He dropped his head in disbelief. The shot epitomized the Golden State Warriors’ evening.
“I just got served a humble slice of cupcake, and that’s it,” Curry jokingly stated.
The Denver Nuggets beat the defending Western Conference champs at their own long-distance shooting game, which translated into an unexpected 132-110 blowout victory.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he could sense it before the game that they might not be ready. He said it was predictable.
“I think it’s kind of the point in the season where everybody is tired. So there’s no excuses,” he said. “We just didn’t look like we had our legs underneath us, and it was more maybe emotion than physical fatigue. We’ve been playing a lot of games, and obviously the emotional night the other night in OKC. We were flat.”
Defensively, the Warriors were a few steps late on rotations and slow-footed getting to loose balls. The Nuggets scored 42 points in the opening quarter, the most the Warriors have allowed in any quarter this season.
Denver (25-30) feasted on the tardiness, nailing 24 of 40 from downtown, tying the NBA regular-season record for made 3s in a game. The Rockets also made 24 against the Pelicans earlier this season.
The Nuggets made 16 3s in the first half, tied for the most in a half of a regular-season game in NBA history. Entering the contest, the Nuggets averaged 10.0 3-pointers a game.
“We definitely could have been a lot better, basketball-wise, emotionally, everything,” Draymond Green said. “But it doesn’t happen every night. You can kind of feel it before the game, but you can’t just accept it. If you accept it, what happened is definitely going to happen.”
Curry put up a subpar 11 points and was an uncharacteristic 1-for-11 from 3-point range. Overall, he was 4-of-18 from the field in 27 minutes.
“I had a pretty good warm-up today,” he said. “I felt really good. Shots didn’t fall, and obviously they hit everything and it was tough to get back in it. But chalk this one up to whatever you want to. It was a rough loss, and hopefully we’ll bounce back Wednesday [against Sacramento].”
Kevin Durant had a team-high 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go with four boards and five assists.
“Two games before the break, and guys are ready to get away from each other a little bit,” Durant said. “But you’ve got to give them credit. They made shots tonight.”
The Nuggets’ starting five all scored in double figures.
Nikola Jokic dominated the game, supplying a triple-double by way of 17 points and career highs of 21 rebounds and 12 assists. Will Barton had 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Jameer Nelson added 23 points and seven assists.
The Warriors (46-9) lost nine games all of last season. Last year’s ninth loss came in their 78th game. Monday was their 55th.
“Well, I guess we’ve got to go 27-and-0 if we want to match it,” Kerr said.
It was the first time in 29 games this season that the Warriors lost when shooting 50 percent or higher from the field.
The Warriors started rookie Patrick McCaw in place of Klay Thompson, who didn’t play because of a sore right heel. McCaw recorded a career-high 19 points.
“Patrick was good,” Kerr said. “He was aggressive. I think he recognized with that group in the fourth quarter he needed to be the guy to really be aggressive and attack, and he did that.”
Denver was up by as many as 28 in the third quarter. The Warriors’ third unit of Briante Weber, Ian Clark, McCaw, James Michael McAdoo and Damian Jones trimmed the margin to nine with 7:28 left to play. However, the Nuggets answered with an 8-0 run and never looked back.
Kerr elected not to reinsert his starters when the game was within reach in the middle of the final quarter.
“Certain games you can just tell,” he said. “You’re either going to bring them back or you’re not, and tonight was not a game where you bring guys back. You let the young guys go.”
Green approved Kerr’s decision. He wanted no part of the ending to that game.
“Nah, I was done,” he said while laughing. “My shoes were unlaced. The pads on my bumps and bruises were gone already. Nah, I didn’t think I was going back in. Had no interest in going back in. I wanted to see the young fellas make a great comeback. It was over for me, though.”
Golden State departs this three-game road trip 2-1. Denver avoided being swept in this season series after losing the first two meetings.