To say it was an off-night for the Warriors would be putting it mildly.
To say it was a atrocious performance would still be underselling it.
Basically, the Warriors 96-81 loss to the Denver Nuggets (18-5) Saturday could only be described using every lyric about the Grinch in that Christmas song.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors’ locker room at Oracle Arena.
Draymond Green lasered in the team’s first attempt of the game. The Oracle crowd was then treated to 20-straight bricks, before Nick Young finally broke the streak with just over a minute left in the third quarter.
This game will not be one that head coach Steve Kerr will keep in his memory banks:
“We just didn’t have it. … Sometimes when the ball doesn’t go in the hole, it affects the body language and energy of the guys. … We flush this one down the toilet and move on.”
Klay Thompson struggled with his shot again, but if Friday night was an off-night, Saturday was a downright disaster for Golden State (26-7). Thompson shot 6-of-21 from the field and was a horrid 1-of-10 from distance. In fact, after missing his first nine 3’s, he was just two misses away from tying the record for most 3’s attempted without a make.
It truly was a triple-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich, with arsenic sauce.
For Kerr it wasn’t the shooting, but the body language that he’s concerned with:
“The bigger concern for me tonight was I just didn’t see a lot of joy out there — I didn’t see a lot of excitement about playing. First half, we were complaining to the refs most of the half, and we weren’t locked in. And we weren’t having much fun, and I think you have to enjoy it out there to be effective. Hopefully we’ll have a little more fun on Christmas.”
Kevin Durant didn’t fare much better, posting just 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting. With their two main scorers — in the continued absence of Stephen Curry, that is — struggling to put the ball in the hoop, the Warriors looked all out of sorts.
Durant — who didn’t hit a single 3 — said all of them felt good:
“Usually when I don’t make a shot from 3-point line I’m forcing them. But I thought tonight I had some perfect looks. I had a pull-up that looked like it was down, I had one where Draymond threw it to me at the top of the key that felt great. … And then that last one went in-and-out and I was like, alright, this ain’t my night.”
Just three players broke double-figures with Green barely cracking the list with 10, and the team would finish an awful 32-of-83 from the field and just 3-of-27 from behind the arc.
The thing that gnawed at Durant was that they were shots that the team actively looks for:
“It’s frustrating for sure, I know the shots Klay was getting, we were very excited about once he got them. And then they went in-and-out or a tough miss. … When you missing shots, you don’t let it affect your defense but this is a feel-good game, you want to make shots. That’s what get’s us going, that’s what get’s the crowd going. And you could just feel the energy after every miss.”
Luckily their defense kept the game from getting truly out of hand, holding Denver to 46 percent shooting. Although Nikola Jokic did get loose for 18 points and nine rebounds — he wasn’t his usual dominant self, and it was evident on both sides that these teams were playing less than 24 removed from their last contest.
And because of that, the deficit hovered around the 11-point mark for much of the game, which it had zero business being that close.
The lone bright spot for the Warriors was rookie Jordan Bell once again. Bell hauled in 10 rebounds to go along with seven points, two assists, two steals and two blocks. But even that bright spot was muted as Bell turned it over four times, which led the team in just 22 minutes.
So essentially nothing looked good, it truly was the Grinch of NBA games. And the three words that would best describe this one is as follows: stink, stank, stunk.
The Warriors get to take Christmas Eve with their families before taking the court again for their annual Christmas Day tradition of taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers (24-9) at an early noon start time.
The loss snapped the 11 game win-streak the Warriors entered with. It also gave the team their first loss in the month of December, after they had started a perfect 10-0.
Curtis Uemura is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @CUemura on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.