LOS ANGELES: Denver forward Danilo Gallinari scored 28 points and came up with a key late steal as the Nuggets handed the Golden State Warriors just their third defeat of the NBA season on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), 112-110 in Colorado.
Golden State’s star guard Stephen Curry scored 38 points, but the Warriors trailed by 10 heading into the final period and couldn’t quite climb out of the hole.
“I don’t think we played hard enough for the majority of the game,” said Warriors coach Luke Walton, whose team fell to 36-3.
“I thought we gave a tremendous effort in the fourth quarter — well, in the last half of the fourth quarter.
“But for a championship team and what we’re trying to accomplish, in my opinion we didn’t play hard enough and we didn’t play smart enough for a majority of that game.”
Nevertheless the Warriors, who are chasing not only a repeat title but the record for regular season wins set by the 72-10 Chicago Bulls of 1995-96 — had a chance to pull it out at the end.
Gallinari, who made 17-for-19 free throws, missed one with 3.1 seconds left to give the Warriors a chance to overcome the 112-110 deficit.
Golden State inbounded the ball, but Klay Thompson missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer.
Golden State played without versatile forward Draymond Green, who missed his first game of the season as a scheduled day of rest.
“We could have used his energy tonight,” Walton said.
Curry scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, draining a three-pointer, three free throws and two layups as the Warriors cut the deficit to 102-95 with 2:40 to play.
Curry’s fourth three-pointer of the game pulled the Warriors within 104-100 with 1:44 remaining but Will Barton, who scored 21 points for Denver, responded with a three-pointer of his own.
After another Curry layup, Denver’s Darrell Arthur sank a jump shot to give the Nuggets a 109-102 lead.
A layup from Warriors forward Harrison Barnes and a three-pointer by Curry made it 109-107 with 37.1 seconds to play.
Gallinari then stole the ball from Curry and Denver guard Gary Harris hit two free throws with 5.4 seconds left.
Thompson sank a three-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining to pull the Warriors to 111-110.
But after Gallinari made one of two free throws, Thompson was unable to get the game-winner.
“We showed a lot of fight and aggressiveness down the stretch,” Curry said. “[But] we spotted them too many points.”