Momentum Swing: Denver Nuggets trumped by Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors’ battled hard to take a 2-1 series lead over the Denver Nuggets with a 110-108 victory in Oakland. In an attempt to defy the popular perception that basketball games are decided in the last few minutes, this article attempts to track momentum in the Game 3 of the series. The ability to carry momentum and stop momentum is as important in basketball as making free throws.

First Quarter

12:00 (Nuggets 0 Warriors 0) Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried won the tip against Andrew Bogut. Bogut at 7 feet has four inches on Faried. Faried’s energy was much more apparent here than in game two.

9:12 (Nuggets 8 Warriors 6) Kenneth Faried found the paint for a layup after an Iguodala dunk. Faried’s and one free throw gave the Nuggets a two-point lead. It wasn’t a run, but set the tone for the next few minutes.

6:20 (Nuggets 15 Warriors 12) Iguodala stole the ball from Golden State’s Harrison Barnes, and Faried got his own rebound and drew the foul. After a Warrior’s time out, the Nuggets regained the lead with Faried making both free throws. Denver really looked like they might be able to make a run to end of the first.

6:03 (Nuggets 15 Warriors) Stephen Curry stopped the Nuggets’ momentum with a huge three, his first big basket of the game. Overall, the Nuggets successfully trapped Curry early, but this three came off a pass from Bogut.

4:18 (Nuggets 21 Warriors 17) Lawson drew a foul committed by Curry and sank both of his free throws. This created two trends; Lawson’s excellent free throw shooting, 12-12, and Curry’s foul trouble.

0:00 (Nuggets 32 Golden State 32) The Warriors fought back in the last few minutes of the quarter and had the momentum, at least from the fans. Let’s talk about Golden State Warrior fans for a second. They do a WAR-I-ORS chant that sounds like a taunt. Nuggets fans usually save that for the opposing team, like KO-BE, although maybe they should start doing it for Kou-fos.
Second Quarter

11:20 (Nuggets 34 Warriors 32) Faried’s dunk from Brewer gave the Nuggets the first lead of the quarter, reestablishing their ability to penetrate. The play came from a Faried steal at the other end. My friends agreed this was one of the few “Nuggets” plays of the night. During the regular season, the Nuggets would string four or five of these play together to demoralize the other team. The Nuggets need to utilize this technique to get back into this series.

10:34 (Nuggets 36 Warriors 36) Carl Landry scored twice in a row for Golden State, stealing the ball in between. The Warrior’s bench is proving to be deeper than the Nuggets.

9:03 (Nuggets 44 Warriors 36) Brewer’s three pointer at the shot clock buzzer gave the Nuggets their opening to make a run in the second quarter. Iguodala added five points on the next two possessions. The outside shooting in the first half created Nuggets’ points, unlike in their second half droughts. Iguodala penetrating along with Lawson could have helped with this problem.

5:41 (Nuggets 51 Warriors 46) Harrison Barnes three-pointer off an offensive rebound turned out to be a lot bigger than it appeared. The Warriors needed something to keep the game from becoming a blow out in the second quarter. Barnes really came alive after being controlled early. He was another guy the Nuggets could not contain.

3:24 (Nuggets 55 Warriors 52) Javale McGee’s awkward lay-in from halfway between the free throw line and basket showed his developing hook shot is finally working. McGee’s basket came after a Curry three that pulled Golden State within one. From that point Denver finished the quarter on a 13 to 2 run.

0:00 (Nuggets 66 Warriors 54) Advantage Nuggets

3rd Quarter

11:48 (Nuggets 66 Warriors 54) Ty Lawson committed a foul to start the quarter. Ty fought to keep the Nuggets lead with two early buckets, but this was the Warriors quarter. Chipping away at the lead, the Warriors began attacking.

6:11 (Nuggets 73 Warriors 71) The Nuggets called a timeout after the Warriors scored six points in a row in less than a minute. The Nuggets started forcing up shots and not getting the defensive rebound, which was obviously a deficiency of the smaller line up.

4:54 (Warriors 74 Nuggets 72) Curry’s three gave the Warriors the lead. Seconds later, Javale McGee tangled up with Andrew Bogut, with Bogut receiving the technical. The physical advantage was with the Warriors at this point as evidenced by the mix up.

0:00 (Warriors 87 Nuggets 84) The Nuggets only points in the last two minutes came from Wilson Chandler free throws. Koufos came into the game and was just terrible again. I would not be surprised if Koufos is done playing competitive minutes in the series. Koufos has been so bad that the he’s too much of a liability at both ends of the floor and can’t effectively screen, like Bogut does for the Warriors. Advantage Golden State.


4th Quarter

10:45 (Nuggets 88 Warriors 87) Two Anthony Randolph baskets off dynamic possessions repossessed the Nuggets lead. Randolph made an impact unlike Koufos, but lacks consistency to play center minutes.

(Warriors 92 Nuggets 88) Draymond Green’s three forced a Denver timeout as the Nuggets to tried and stop momentum of Warriors running away with the game on their own turf.

8:15 (Warriors 94 Nuggets 88) Chandler’s basket interference negated a bucket for the Nuggets. This followed Corey Brewer and Anthony Randolph back-to-back offensive fouls. The basket interference was the first time all game where things really didn’t feel like they were going the Nuggets way.

5:54 (Warriors 96 Nuggets 94) Faried’s dunk forced a timeout. Faried was much more of a presence in the game and was able to move the keep the Nuggets from falling off, with two buckets.

1:54 (Warriors 108 Nuggets 102) A bad sequence for the Nuggets caused them to fall behind six after Curry sunk two free throws. The play started because Andre Miller took a bad shot, got his own rebound and tried to dribble instead of control the ball. Miller’s lack of poise late put the game on the brink.

1:47 (Warriors 108 Nuggets 105) Lawson’s driving basket kept the Nuggets in the game after he hit the bonus free throw to give the Nuggets a chance. The momentum seemed geared toward the Nuggets.

0:05 (Warriors 109 Nuggets 108) Denver squandered several opportunities late. Ty Lawson’s poor decision to try and force himself in a lane ended the Nuggets hopes. It’s hard to fault Lawson, who scored a career playoff best and game high 35 points, but This essentially clinched it for the Warriors.

0:00 (Warriors 110 Nuggets 108) Iguodala almost converted the Rocky half-court shot, but it banged off the rim. Warriors 2-1 advantage forced a must win for the Nuggets on Sunday.


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