Denver (18-15) led for much of the contest, holding an advantage as high as 19 points. The 81 points were a season low for the Warriors, and the loss marked their first in December.
After the game, most of the Warriors headed straight for the locker room instead of congratulating the opposition as they typically do.
“It didn’t feel like we were into it emotionally tonight,” head coach Steve Kerr said. “Sometimes after a long winning streak, for whatever reason, you let your guard down a little bit, and it wasn’t there. Our guys pushed, and they tried, but we couldn’t generate the energy and the effort that’s needed to win a game in this league.”
Golden State (26-7) had problems scoring the ball all night. Kevin Durant produced a team-high 18 points but was 6-for-17 shooting and 0-for-5 from downtown. Klay Thompson struggled, going 6-for-21 and 1-for-10 from deep.
During one cold stretch, the Warriors missed 20 consecutive 3-pointers, from 11:39 in the first quarter until Nick Young finally ended the drought at the 1:51 mark of the third.
When Durant emerged from the locker room to address reporters, he was singing, “It’s just one of them days,” a line from a song by R&B singer Monica.
“I thought tonight I got some perfect looks,” Durant said. “I got a pullup that looked like it was down, I had that one where Draymond threw the ball at the top of the key, it felt good. I had another one, it felt great. And then the last one went in and out, and I was like, ‘All right, it’s not my night.'”
The Warriors are tops in the league in field goal percentage (50.9) and 3-point percentage (39.5), but it didn’t show Saturday, as they shot 39 percent from the field and went 3-of-27 from 3-point range (11.1 percent).
It was their worst 3-point percentage in a game since 2008 and their worst in a home game since 2005 (minimum 20 attempts), according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“The bigger concern for me tonight was I just didn’t see a lot of joy tonight,” Kerr said. “I didn’t see a lot of excitement about playing. The first half, we’re complaining to the refs most of the half. We weren’t locked in, we weren’t having much fun, and I think you have to enjoy it out there to be effective.”
Gary Harris scored 19 points for Denver (18-15).
With 7:27 remaining in the contest, Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic inadvertently caught Draymond Green with an elbow to the face, and no call was made. Green fell to the floor and remained there for several minutes.
The Warriors were livid, demanding an explanation from the officials. It was one more reason for them to be frustrated this evening.
X-rays on Green’s left elbow came back negative. The Warriors said he was hurt not on the Jokic play but at some point in the fourth quarter when he fell to the ground.
Green is not expected to miss any time.
The Warriors’ next game is the Christmas Day showdown against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“Hopefully we’ll have a little more fun on Christmas,” Kerr said.