Michael Malone's Kevon Looney joke shows Draymond Green's impact

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Malone's Looney joke shows Draymond's impact on Jokic originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Nikola Jokic gave the Denver Nuggets exactly the type of performance they needed Thursday in Game 3 against the Warriors, scoring 37 points and pulling down 18 rebounds at Ball Arena. But that wasn't enough as the Warriors gutted out a 118-113 win in Denver to snatch the Nuggets' soul and go up three games to zero.

Despite Jokic's impressive stat line Thursday, Draymond Green still got the best of the reigning NBA MVP when it mattered. With 41 seconds remaining and the Warriors leading by five, Jokic got the ball in the post against Green and tried to bully his way to the rim. But Green saw an opening and swiped the ball away from Jokic, sealing Golden State's win.

After the game, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone discussed how hard the Warriors' defense makes life for the Nuggets and how brilliantly Green has defended Jokic.

"We're playing against a team that is a top-three defensive team in the NBA," Malone said. "They have a guy who is a Hall of Famer in Draymond Green, who is a hell of a defensive player. I joked with the coaching staff, I said, 'The key to the game is keeping Kevon Looney in the game.' You know what I mean? And that's no disrespect to Kevon Looney, but when Draymond goes to Nikola, it's a different animal."

Green had his issues with Jokic in Game 3. He went for several ball fakes on Jokic and had five fouls midway through the fourth quarter. But when winning time came, Green stayed down and didn't play scared despite having five fouls. As he has many times before, Green came through when the Warriors needed him most.

The Nuggets went at Green with the game on the line and paid the price.

“I was terrible all night, recovering on the pick-and-roll,” Green said during his "Warriors Postgame Live" court-side interview on NBC Sports Bay Area immediately after the win. “I went for several ball fakes. Coach Kerr got at me in that last timeout. I just knew I had to stay down, and I had to make him go through me. The first couple games, I was making him go through me. Tonight, I gave him a lot of angles.

“But when the money is on the line, I don’t like it when people go at me for all the marbles. I hate that.”

RELATED: Warriors show championship mettle with Game 3 win

After cruising in Games 1 and 2, the Warriors found themselves in a dog fight in Game 3. There was no doubt the Nuggets would come out swinging to try and get back in the series.

Denver played its best game of the series and led by two with under three minutes to play. But the Warriors' veteran core has been in countless playoff games, and they made the winning plays down the stretch to push the Nuggets to the brink of elimination.

Jordan Poole has been sensational. Klay Thompson made several clutch 3-pointers Thursday, and Andrew Wiggins arrived just in the time to secure the win. But the Warriors' domination of the Nuggets starts with Green and the Hall-of-Fame-level defense he has played on the man who likely will be back-to-back MVP in a few weeks.

He has battled Jokic tooth and nail, and with one swipe at the ball Thursday put the Warriors 48 minutes away from the Western Conference semifinals.

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