The Nuggets Held Off A Late Warriors Charge To Avoid Getting Swept

The Denver Nuggets entered Game 4 at home facing the prospects of a first round sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, but came out with admirable fight on Sunday afternoon at home, despite the long odds staring them in the face.

After getting torched for three games, the Nuggets came out with an improved effort defensively, frustrating the Warriors on offense and doing a much better job staying organized, attached to shooters, and only helping off non-shooters to start the game. Denver took a 26-21 lead into the second quarter, fueled by that defensive effort and Nikola Jokic shouldering most of the burden offensively. The reigning MVP had 18 of his 37 points on the day in the first quarter, doing a bit of everything as he gave the Warriors fits out of the gate.

Picking up where Jokic left off for Denver was rookie Bones Hyland, as the precocious young guard gave the Nuggets a spark off the bench during a big run across the end of the first and start of the second quarter, on his way to a 15-point, 7-assist outing.

The Nuggets led by 11 at the half and the third quarter was mostly a wash, as the Warriors woke up offensively but still couldn’t cut much into the deficit, trailing by nine going to the fourth.

In that final period, the Warriors made a few runs, but each time the Nuggets showed their resiliency and had an answer. Early on, it was Hyland who again showed the value he brings to Denver at the point of attack, shaking Klay Thompson for a big bucket to push Denver’s lead back out to 10 with eight minutes to play.

The big run from the Warriors started with about five minutes to play, when they started to really click offensively, snapping the ball around and creating open shot after open shot by getting Denver in transition, headlined by these two buckets from Andrew Wiggins (20 points) and Klay Thompson (32 points).

On the other side, Jokic had the answers to keep the Warriors at bay for a bit, hitting Draymond Green with a vicious spin move — just a minute before Green would foul out, which proved costly for the Warriors on the defensive end of the floor.

While Green was out, the Warriors found success attacking Jokic as the Nuggets started to switch pick-and-rolls against the small-ball Warriors, with Wiggins and Otto Porter as the two bigs, and Stephen Curry went to work on his way to 33 points off the bench, pulling the Warriors ahead briefly with just over a minute to play.

After Denver tied things up they finally got a stop, and Monte Morris continued his stellar game, finishing with 24 points and five assists, with a floater to push the Nuggets back in front, a lead they would hold for good.

A disastrous inbounds play that saw Porter throw an ill-advised lob to Andrew Wiggins got broken up by Austin Rivers, and on the Nuggets final possession, it was Will Barton who drilled a corner three off of a beautiful Jokic pass that put the dagger in the Warriors.

Jokic finished the game with 37 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, none bigger than the final kick to the corner. Aaron Gordon added 21 for Denver, including a few key late buckets and free throws, while the bench unit played its best game of the series. For the Warriors, Curry and Thompson combined for 65 points but Jordan Poole came back to earth with an 11-point outing (although he did dish out nine assists) and Green’s foul trouble loomed large in the closing minutes as the Warriors struggled to get the necessary stops to complete a comeback win and get a sweep.

Now the series shifts back to San Francisco where the Warriors will look to close things out at home in Game 5 on Wednesday night.