We got almost exactly what we wanted out of the Nuggets in the first quarter. The team came out and played with the same inspired aggressiveness that they had in Game 5 as George Karl turned to the same starting lineup and was rewarded with Denver eating Golden State alive on the boards.
The Nuggets raced out to a 25-21 lead and saw that lead grow to 34-25 in the second quarter before the Warriors were able to reel the Nuggets back in. Part of the problem was again Karl going to a small lineup. That small lineup, without a true center on the floor, gave up the 9 point lead and Denver went into the locker room with a 42-40 advantage. It was again one of those games where it felt like the Nuggets should have been up 10-15 points, but were just not able to fully take over the game.
Missed layups and three pointers were a huge problem once again for Karl's team. Andre Miller missed a number of easy looks in the first half. Surprisingly, Miller played just 26 minutes on the night, but again was on the floor during crucial stretches and finished the night +8 ... seems odd since he was 3-12 shooting and took an explainable four three point shots (0-4).
The Nuggets found themselves down 80-62 at the 9:11 mark of the fourth quarter thanks to Stephen Curry catching a little fire and Jarrett Jack driving all over on the Nuggets defense - dishing to guys for open dunks, jumpers, and shots for himself. The third quarter just seemed to doom the Nuggets once again. Golden State won the third 33-20 and Denver's "offense" went into the toilet for much of the second, third, and fourth quarters. It was maddening.
The score would remain 80-62 all the way to the 8:19 mark when Denver made what was almost an epic comeback. From that point on the Nuggets went on to outscore the Warriors 26-12. The Warriors committed an unforgivable 9 turnovers and tried to give the game away. Denver didn't take full advantage as they missed multiple three-pointers (4), jumpers (3), and close looks (3) to go along with hitting just 5-8 from the foul line down the stretch.
All night it was just a game where Denver couldn't take advantage on offense and allowed a single scoring burst from the Warriors that doomed it. The Nuggets had to play a near perfect game on the road and they did not get that accomplished. As a team they shot just 34.7% - their worst shooting night of the entire season. The Nuggets held the Warriors to 7-25 from three-point land (28%), but Denver shot more and missed more themselves going 7-28 from deep (25%).
In such a tight game it was a shame the referees had any sort of role in the contest. The Warriors finished with more free throw attempts than Denver: 23-24 vs. 13-21 despite being a primarily jump shooting team compared to Denver's aggressive attack. The refs were magnified as they absolutely blew a call when Draymond Green went flying into a planted (and not in the restricted zone) JaVale McGee at the 3:55 mark. Denver was on a roll and that play not only wiped out some momentum, but it sent Green to the line instead of giving Denver the ball back with the score sitting at 82-78 before the free throws. Instead Green hits both and it's 84-78 instead of Denver being able to perhaps get it down to a single possession game.
Yes, I sound like a hack for drawing attention to a foul call, but it was such an obvious charge that the ref standing right there should have easily made the right one. And then with 0:12 second left the craziest play occurred. Chandler missed the runner and he typically follows that shot with a make, but he missed the putback. The ball was hit by either Carl Landry or Chandler and heads to the baseline, Brewer seemed to save it to Faried for an open dunk ... tie game 90-90 with just 0:11 seconds to go ... nope ... the ball was called out of bounds on the bounce before Brewer got to it ... judge for yourself:
As a Stiffs Night Out attendee stated after the game: I can live with a bad call, I can't live with a bad review. The play was reviewed and it was determined that it could not be overruled. The Nuggets were forced to foul, Jack hit two freebies and the game was essentially over.
I'll take whatever heat I get for drawing attention to two calls among all the missed opportunities by the Nuggets, shot wise. That's fine. As a fan of the game, you hope that you can rely on the fail-safe that the refs or video review will get a play right and when (rose colored glasses) it doesn't happen, it just sucks. Ha ha ha.
I loved this Nuggets team. It was amazing seeing them come together this season. I got an incredible inside look (well, a little inside) at how the team and coaches interacted and got to know, a bit, some of the people involved with this squad. It was amazing. I love sports and I love what they have meant to me in my life and the things they have taught me. I stick to watching hoops because it's the game I enjoy to play the most myself.
As the game was unfolding and Denver was down nearly 20 points, some folks left Stiffs Night Out. I couldn't blame them. I like to stick it out ... hope for a miracle or feel the pain. We almost got a little miracle tonight and it was fun debating in short breaks of the game what had to happen for the Nuggets to pull it out. Hit a three here, go for the two there, get a steal, hope for a pass to be thrown away, or for a steal to be made.
It was awesome watching the game with Nuggets fans. If the season had to end, I'm glad I ended it with so many great people living in the moment of the contest. I've met so many awesome people this season though the site, at games, off Twitter, and at the SNO events. I've watched so many Nuggets games that I'm starting to forget the stuff that happened in the early 2000's now it seems. I can barely remember the 1993-94 dream season upset. It's crazy. I love watching basketball and think to myself about just walking away sometimes, but I can't ever really do that. I like the Nuggets to much, I like the game too much, I like writing too much, and enjoy all of you too.
People say sports are about entertainment. I believe they are about more than that, but I was entertained all season.
Thank you Denver Nuggets.
We'll be around all off-season, as usual, talking draft, summer league, free agency, and all that stuff. Expect to see articles in the following days from Jeff Morton, Andrew Feinstein, Colin Neilson, and myself wrapping up this season and us giving you our thoughts on various items.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE ON DENVER STIFFS - YOU GUYS MAKE THIS PLACE A FUN PLACE TO TALK NUGGETS BASKETBALL AND A PLACE WHERE WE CAN ALL LEARN, DEBATE, LAUGH, AND SO MUCH MORE.
... if we just could have gotten it to Game 7 ...