Initial thoughts from the Nuggets’ 118-113 loss in Game 3 to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of their Western Conference playoff series:
Nuggets collapse in tense fourth quarter, on brink of elimination after Game 3 loss
Keeler: What invasion? Warriors faithful didn’t turn Ball Arena into Chase Center West after all. Although they tried. “I’m a little embarrassed for Nuggets fans.”
Veteran Jeff Green makes NBA history while holding the Nuggets’ “ship” together
Nuggets vow aggression, urgency in Game 3: “We are desperate, but we’re not going to play that way”
Nuggets Podcast: How can Denver turn the tide against Golden State in their first-round playoff series?
Gordon steps up. It appears that all that talk about Aaron Gordon’s lack of physicality finally lit a spark under the Nuggets forward. Gordon provided Ball Arena its biggest roar of the night, midway into the third quarter, with hammer dunks on consecutive possessions to give Denver an 80-75 lead. His first bucket of the game was on the receiving end of a slick alley-oop from Monte Morris. Gordon’s final stat line: 18 points on 53.8% shooting (7 of 13), 12 rebounds, four assists and one block. He bullied Golden State inside and cashed in his lone 3-point shot attempt. It’s about time that Gordon leveraged his 6-foot-8 and 235-pound frame against the Warriors, and especially their small-ball lineup. But where was this Gordon all series?
Hello, Facu. Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters in pregame that it was time for reserve point guard Facu Campazzo to make an impact in this series after sitting the first two games. Malone said: “One thing I know is that Facu is going to go out there and make somebody feel him.” Campazzo checked in three times, and true to form, he pestered Steph Curry and Jordan Poole with cling-tight defense. But it did little to prevent Golden State from running up an early double-digit lead. Campazzo finished the night with no points, no assists, no steals and one turnover over 3:59 of playing time. Credit Malone for emptying the bench in search of a spark. But Campazzo’s presence won’t turn the series for Denver.
Red-hot Warriors. Golden State’s always prolific offense reached new levels of absurdity in the first half. The visitors shot 67.5% from the field with only 13 missed shots entering halftime: 27 of 40. They also connected on 57.1% of their attempts beyond the arc: 12 of 21. The Warriors’ so-called “Death Lineup” — Curry, Poole, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green — didn’t go an explosive run to put it away (unlike the past two games). But that didn’t matter late in the fourth quarter when Denver’s offense went cold and a driving Curry layup essentially put the game away. Few teams in the NBA are well-equipped defensively to slow down Golden State. The Nuggets are still searching for answers entering a must-win Game 4 on Sunday.