Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry runs up the court after shooting a 3-point basket, the 3,000th of his career, against the Denver Nuggets during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
SAN FRANCISCO — Stephen Curry became the first player in NBA history to make 3,000 career 3-pointers on Tuesday night in a game where the Denver Nuggets barely held off the NBA-leading Golden State Warriors 89-86.
Denver’s Nikola Jokic blocked a potential game-tying shot by Jonathan Kuminga in the final seconds to preserve the win after his team nearly blew a 24-point halftime lead. The Warriors got one more chance to tie the game, but Andre Iguodala missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “I thought Will Barton, down the stretch, made a couple of big, big plays.”
Barton had 21 points, while Jokic led Denver with 22 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
“Nikola having 18 rebounds, 22 points and making a key, key play down the stretch is why he’s a great player,” Malone said. “You need those types of plays to pull out wins like this.”
Andrew Wiggins had 21 points and eight rebounds for Golden State in his first game back from the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Curry, who scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half, made a corner 3-pointer late in the third quarter to give him 157 consecutive games with a 3-point field goal. It ties his own NBA record, which he set from 2014-16.
The Warriors trailed 60-36 at the half, but kept Denver down offensively while opening the third quarter on a 17-5 run to cut Denver’s lead to 65-53. They pulled within five on a Curry step-back 3-pointer with 7:20 remaining in the fourth quarter before he made back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the Nuggets’ lead to 84-82 with 2:08 left.
Golden State tied the game at 84 on a dunk by Gary Payton II with 1:04 remaining. Barton put the Nuggets back in front 86-84 with a tip-in on the ensuing possession and Denver held on to win despite scoring just 29 points in the second half.
“They were the aggressor from the start,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I loved the way we fought back in the second half and gave ourselves a chance. … Really proud of the guys for the effort, but obviously we’ve got to play better.”
The Nuggets started the game on a 10-0 run and built a 31-16 lead after the first quarter. Curry remained scoreless deep into the first half, finally getting his first points with 2:08 remaining in the second quarter.
Golden State’s 86 points were a season low, and the team made just 16 of 31 free throws.
“We just came out flat,” Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson said. “We sucked in the first half. … We just dug ourselves a hole too deep to get out of.”
Before the game, the Chase Center held a moment of silence for John Madden. The longtime Raiders coach and NFL broadcaster died Tuesday morning at 85.
Nuggets: Monte Morris sat out with left knee soreness. … Aaron Gordon missed his third straight game with left hamstring soreness.
Warriors: Draymond Green, Jordan Poole, Damion Lee and Moses Moody remained in health and safety protocols. … Iguodala returned after missing two games with right knee soreness.
Nuggets: Host Golden State on Thursday to complete the home-and-home.
Warriors: At Denver on Thursday to begin a brief two-game road trip.
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