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What we learned as Warriors collapse in last-second loss to Nuggets

What we learned as Warriors collapse in last-second loss to Nuggets originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

BOX SCORE

Ten days after burying the Warriors with 18 free throws, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić played the villain again Thursday at Chase Center with a 39-foot, 3-point buzzer-beater, rallying the defending NBA champs to a 130-127 win over Golden State.

The Nuggets trailed by 13 entering the fourth quarter, then outscored the Golden State 36-20 to earn their sixth consecutive win against the Warriors.

The Warriors had six players score in double figures led, of course, by Stephen Curry, who had 30 points and six assists. Klay Thompson shot a pair of airballs but still poured in 24 points with four 3-pointers. Jonathan Kuminga added 16 points, while Dario Šarić and Brandin Podziemski had 13 points apiece and Andrew Wiggins scored 11.

Golden State allowed 70 points in the first half, then appeared to take control with a big third quarter where they tallied 44 points and limited Denver to 24.

The Warriors still were comfortably ahead in the fourth quarter before the Nuggets made their late rally.

After Jokić lobbed a pass to Aaron Gordon for a dunk then later scored down low to tie the game at 127-127, Golden State bobbled its final opportunity when Curry tried a cross-court throw to Andrew Wiggins intercepted by Jamal Murray. Then, the Nuggets called timeout with 3.6 seconds left, setting up Jokić’s game-winner.

Here are the takeaways from the game:

KLAY SPUTTERS THEN SPARKS

After Thompson began his night with an airball from 3-point range, he quickly regained his rhythm and helped the Warriors' offense. Thompson made four of his next six shots beyond the arc and was Golden State’s top scorer in the first half.

The up-and-down Thompson finished 9-of-18 shooting, his best offensive production in more than a week. Thompson’s night included a crucial three-point play early in the third quarter followed by an 81-foot jumper over Jamal Murray.

For the Warriors to make a serious run at the NBA playoffs, Thompson has to find some consistency to his game like he did earlier in his career, which makes it difficult for opposing teams to focus so much on stopping Curry.

LOONEY BACK WITH STARTERS

Kevon Looney was back in the starting lineup, primarily because his size offered a better matchup with Jokić, and the results were mixed.

Looney didn’t stop Jokić per se, but did make it a little more difficult for the Nuggets big man to do his thing.

The only time Jokić really had his way against Looney was when he drove the lane and lofted a short floater over the Warriors center for a bucket. Beyond that, Looney appeared to hold his own.

With the Joker draped on him on the other end of the floor, Looney was more of a facilitator than he was a scorer. He scored only seven points but had four rebounds and three assists.

KEEP ‘EM OFF THE LINE

In the foul-filled Christmas Day loss to the Nuggets that left Kerr and Curry muttering about the NBA’s rules making it more difficult on defenses, the Warriors were whistled for a whopping 23 fouls.

This time around, Golden State fared much better.

On Thursday, the Warriors were only called for 20 fouls, leading to 29 free throws for Denver. That’s a far cry from 10 days earlier when the Nuggets had 32 foul shots, 18 of them taken and made by Jokić. This time around, the Nuggets big man was 6 of 7 on free throws.

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