The defending NBA champions fell to their first defeat of a season which isn’t yet a week old, but the unbeaten Nuggets built on their promising start as contenders for the Western Conference.
Less than a week into the season, the Nuggets top the West with a perfect 3-0 record.
Denver led by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors, led by 30 points from Stephen Curry, whittled the deficit, knotting the score at 97-97 with 1:29 remaining.
Three missed free throws by the Nuggets in the final 1:18 opened the door for the Warriors, but the visitors couldn’t take advantage.
Draymond Green had a chance to tie the game when he missed one of two free throws with 10 seconds remaining and the Warriors trailed by two on their final possession.
Curry drove to the rim, drawing two defenders, and passed to Damian Jones.
As Jones rose for the shot, Hernangomez dived in to bat the ball away from behind.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team is not yet firing on all cylinders.
“We’re not where we need to be,” said Kerr, whose Warriors led by as many as 12 in the first quarter, and by two at half-time, but were out-scored 33-21 in the third period.
Kerr was pleased with the Warriors’ “competitive juice and spirit” but said their late push was doomed by sloppy play.
“We can’t expect to win every game on emotion,” Kerr said. “We’ve got to win on execution and intelligence. We’ll get there.”
A day after his impressive triple-double against Phoenix, Nikola Jokic scored 23 points with 11 rebounds and six assists for Denver.
Gary Harris added 28 points and the Nuggets forced 18 turnovers in a solid defensive effort against the prolific Warriors.
“We fought through,” Harris said. “We stuck through to the end, we played til the last buzzer.”
The Warriors weren’t the only Western power laid low on Sunday as the Los Angeles Clippers held on for a 115-112 victory over the Houston Rockets.
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