OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn’t see much passion from his team Saturday.
Golden State better find some fast for Christmas Day, when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come to town for a prime-time holiday rematch of the past three NBA Finals.
Gary Harris scored 19 points to lead a balanced Denver offense and the Nuggets stopped the Warriors’ 11-game winning streak with a second impressive road victory in two nights, beating Golden State 96-81.
“It didn’t feel like we were into it emotionally tonight. Sometimes after a long winning streak, whatever reason, you let your guard down a little bit. It wasn’t there,” Kerr said. “The biggest concern for me tonight, I didn’t see a lot of joy. … We weren’t having much fun.”
Nikola Jokic added 18 points and nine rebounds and Jamal Murray had 14 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Nuggets after their Friday win at Portland. They held the defending NBA champions to a season low for points.
Kevin Durant had 18 points and six rebounds in a particularly poor shooting performance for the typically efficient NBA Finals MVP. He was 6 for 17 and missed all five of his 3-point attempts as the Warriors shot 38.6 percent.
Draymond Green had 10 points, six assists and five rebounds in his second game back after missing five of six with soreness in his right shoulder. He took a sharp elbow to the face from Jokic with 7:27 remaining and went down hard, then was getting X-rays on his left elbow afterward.
Klay Thompson scored 15 for the Warriors but was 6 for 21 overall and 1 of 10 on 3s as Golden State went just 3 for 27 from deep. A night after posting his first career double-double with season bests of 20 points and 10 rebounds, Warriors rookie Jordan Bell contributed seven points and 10 rebounds.
Patrick McCaw’s floater with 7:13 to go pulled Golden State to 82-71, but the Warriors couldn’t do much more to fight back.
“I can’t remember seeing many teams hold that team to 3 of 27 from the 3-point line,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “So it’s a hell of a win for us and it’s going to make Christmas obviously that much merrier.”
The Warriors were sloppy, lacked a flow on offense, looked a step behind most of the night and never got rolling trying to play catch-up much of the evening. Fans headed for the exits with a few minutes left, a rare sight at Oracle Arena.
“When you’re missing shots, you don’t let it affect your defense, but this is a feel-good game,” Durant said. “You want to make shots, that’s what gets us going, that’s what gets the crowd going.”
Golden State has regularly relied on big third quarters this season, and Saturday it couldn’t even muster a strong fourth after going into the final period down 73-62.
It was also the second night of a back-to-back for the Warriors, who beat the Lakers at home on Friday. They fell behind 53-41 at the break Saturday.
Harris had his second strong game after missing one with a bruised elbow.
The Nuggets had lost five straight on Golden State’s home floor dating to a 100-99 win at Oracle on April 10, 2014.
It was an especially slow start for Golden State, which began 6 for 18 — with Durant going 1 for 5 and Thompson missing his initial four shots as the Warriors shot 7 for 21 in the opening quarter.
Stephen Curry did extensive on-court work during pregame warmups and appeared to be moving well on his sprained right ankle, though the two-time MVP isn’t going to play Monday.
“If we weren’t playing Cleveland on Christmas and I told you Steph hasn’t even played in a 3-on-3 game, hasn’t had any contact at all and the game was 48 hours from now, you would say that ‘Steph’s not going to play,’ but because it’s the magnitude of the game and everybody wants to know, but we can’t let that affect our judgment,” Kerr said. “He can’t play. It would be completely irresponsible if he did.”
Curry has missed seven straight games.
Nuggets: Denver capitalized on the Warriors’ mistakes, turning 19 turnovers into 21 points. … Trey Lyles had 15 points and six boards off the bench.
Warriors: Golden State’s 88 points in a 92-88 loss at Boston on Nov. 16 was its previous season low. … C Zaza Pachulia went through what he called a tough workout Saturday morning to test the soreness below his left shoulder and remained hopeful of playing Monday. “We’ll see,” Pachulia said. “I’m going to have another great workout tomorrow.” He missed his seventh consecutive game and eighth in nine. … Shaun Livingston sat out his fourth straight game with a sore right knee but got in a solid pregame workout and looked strong running. … Kerr stuck with his winning starting five from Friday after Golden State used eight different starting lineups over the previous nine games.
Nuggets: Host the Utah Jazz on Tuesday.
Warriors: Host the Cavaliers on Christmas in a rematch of the last three NBA Finals.
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