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    Nuggets quick to pounce on rare day when Warriors are firing blanks

    Dec 24, 2017
    Kevin Durant scored 18 points for the Warriors, but he went 6-for-17 from the field and 0-for-5 from 3-point range. AP
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    CHICAGO - Two nights before Christmas, while moderately abusing alcohol away from home, my disbelieving eyes saw something so oddly peculiar - the Golden State Warriors missed 52 of 83 field goals and made only 3-of-27 threes.

    Golden State's shooting wasn't just a miss-demeanor, it was a felony.

    Denver, meanwhile, didn't exactly look like Nuggets roasting on an open fire, but they shot hot enough to pull a surprise - 38 of 82 from the field, 7-of-28 from long distance and 13-of-15 from the free throw stripe.

    With their 96-81 debacle at the Oracle Arena early on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time), the Warriors' 11-game win streak was a wrap. They also lost the best record in the NBA, dropping to 26-7, a full game behind the 25-6 Rockets.

    A quick autopsy of the Warriors' demise revealed multiple blunt force trauma as five Nuggets scored in double figures led by Gary Harris, who had 19 points, and Nikola Jokic who finished with 18 and 9 rebounds.

    Denver also clobbered Golden State off the boards, 45-38, a minor rebounding edge that proved crucial in the sense that it allowed the Nuggets to control the scoring down the paint, 48-40, while holding the Warriors to just 19 fastbreak points.

    I don't want to be the Grinch who stole the Nuggets' Christmas cheer, but an argument can be made that Golden State lost this one instead of Denver winning it.

    Look, the Warriors sank just 38.6 percent from the field and 11.1 percent from deep in their own building. That's as rare as Santa giving gifts in January.

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    Kevin Durant registered 18 points, but went 6-for-17 from the field and 0-for-5 from 3-point range. Klay Thompson had 15 points but he made only 1-for-10 from distance. Nick Young went 2-for-8 while Andre Iguodala, who usually serves up memorable performances, had a forget-about-it 1-for-6 fare.

    Both teams were playing their second game in as many nights, but credit goes to Denver for providing the fresher legs after beating the Blazers in Portland 102-85, the day before..

    Denver's win provided a - pun intended - golden nugget on how to beat the defending champions: Orchestrate a balanced attack, shoot the ball well, control the boards and hope the Warriors miss badly.

    Beating the Warriors is definitely possible. Doing it four times in seven games during the playoffs is the challenge, one that requires more than just a Christmas miracle.

    ROCKETS CRASH. After winning 14 straight and getting notice as perhaps a legitimate threat to the Warriors, the Houston Rockets reminded us why they can't be taken seriously after all, losing back-to-back games to the LA Lakers (122-116) on December 20 and to the LA Clippers (128-118) on December 22.

    There is a reason why the Lakers are 11-20 and the Clippers are 13-19. They're both bad.

    But against Houston, both teams imploded for a combined 250 points. The Rockets allowed Clippers guard Austin Rivers and Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma to brutalize them for 38 points each.

    Can you imagine what Kevin Durant and Steph Curry can do against Houston's porous defense? Bloody murder as the British would say.

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    In the Rockets' loss to the Lakers and Clippers, James Harden scattered 102 points, shooting 55 of his team's combined 168 field goals. The production is definitely All-Star caliber, but not necessarily MVP worthy.

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    Kevin Durant scored 18 points for the Warriors, but he went 6-for-17 from the field and 0-for-5 from 3-point range. AP
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