The Golden State Warriors will have to wait one more game before clinching their second consecutive playoff berth.
The Denver Nuggets rolled into Oracle Arena and left with a stunning late victory thanks to Kenneth Faried’s last-second hook.
Steph Curry darted and weaved his way to the rim with 4.7 seconds left to put Golden State ahead, 99-98, and had Oracle Arena on it’s feet.
Kenneth Faried was given the ball, backing down Draymond Green into the paint before pulling the trigger on a well-defended jump hook to silence the raucous home crowd.
We can’t go any further without mentioning Timofey Mozgov. The giant Russian had a career night in Oakland, tying his previous best with 23 points and grabbing a career- and NBA season-high 29 rebounds.
To say Mozgov outplayed the man who sets the tone inside for Golden State, Andrew Bogut, would be an understatement. Bogut scored just four points and pulled down 21 fewer rebounds (just eight).
Faried had himself an impressive night, finishing with 17 rebounds to go with 18 points, including the two most important of the game.
Mozgov and Faried combined for 46 rebounds, eight more than the 38 boards Golden State managed as a collective entity.
Golden State had held a 20-point lead at halftime, Denver committed 16 turnovers and shot worse than 38 percent for the game.
The Warriors were favored by 12.5 points to win the game and on top of that, Denver played the night before (at home) and is down to the bare bones of it’s squad (just nine players suited up last night). Of those nine players, one (Jan Vesely) fouled out after 13 minutes and another (Anthony Randolph) never took the court.
How did Denver win?
A quick look at the rebounding numbers provides the answer. Denver outrebounded Golden State 63-38, including an unbelievable 25-6 edge on offensive rebounds.
The win may not do much more than restore some belief in both Brian Shaw and the core of this Denver team, but it will start to rattle those at Oracle Arena. The Warriors are still on track to make the playoffs, but suddenly they need to be mindful of what’s going on behind them.
A win against the hapless Lakers will guarantee their participation, but a defeat and suddenly they fall into the quagmire that is the Dallas-Memphis-Phoenix throwdown for the final two seeds. It’s still entirely possible, if not plausible, that Golden State misses the playoffs.
For that to happen, they’d essentially need to lose out and Memphis win out. With the Lakers, Blazers, Wolves and Nuggets remaining, at least one win (if not two) should be routine.
I’ll leave the final say on this game to rebound monster and noted wordsmith, Timofey Mozgov:
“I love rebound.”