Although Steph Curry scored a game-high 34 points, the Golden State Warriors suffered their first loss of the season to the Denver Nuggets on Friday, losing 125-123 to the team they eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. of the Western Conference in April.
Curry added five rebounds and four assists to his 34 points on 10 of 22 shooting, but couldn’t lead his team to victory in San Francisco.
The defending champions were undone by an impressive performance from last season’s MVP Nikola Jokic, who finished with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his 77th career triple-double.
With the latter, Jokic now has the second-most triple-doubles in NBA history, behind only Wilt Chamberlain on 78.
The first quarter remained well-balanced, but Denver pulled back in the second and had built a 20-point lead early in the third.
“I thought they just came out a lot stronger than us and set the tone,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said per NBA.
“And then at that point, it’s hard, playing uphill against a great team and I loved our effort in the second half. I thought our guys competed and gave each other a chance and it was just too much to overcome after falling behind by 20.”
The Warriors fought back in the fourth and a Jordan Poole layup with 14.7 seconds remaining left Golden State just one point behind.
But immediately after, with the Warriors still back in transition, Jokic secured the rebound and kicked the ball 85 feet down the field to find Bruce Brown for a two-foot dunk.
Two Jokic free throws with 6.6 seconds left took Denver’s lead past three points and sealed the win.
“Honestly, we’re eight years together now and [nothing surprises me]”Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, according to ESPN.
“So many great games, so many moments when [Jokic has] plays the big game, the good game and a game-changing type of game. … His IQ is off the charts. He’s over there playing chess and a lot of other guys are playing checkers.
Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Ja Morant dazzled, scoring 49 points to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to a 129-122 win over the Houston Rockets.
In the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets held on for a 109-105 victory over the Toronto Raptors, after nearly blowing a 12-point lead in the fourth, while the Atlanta Hawks beat the Orlando Magic 108-98 .