What we learned as Warriors' youngsters impress in Nuggets loss


The Warriors on Monday night came into Denver with nine healthy players, including two players who have spent the majority of the season in the G League on two-way contracts. 

Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. all were ruled out. Add that to their injured trio of Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and James Wiseman and the Warriors' roster was razor-thin against the Nuggets. This team sure didn't act like it. 

Though the final result was a 131-124 loss, extending the Warriors' losing streak to five straight, Steve Kerr has to be more than proud of his squad. They fought, they clawed, they never seemed out of a game they probably shouldn't have been in. 

The Warriors' 124 points are their most in a loss this season. The problem is, they also allowed a season-high 131 points. Golden State shot 51.1 percent from the field and 42.5 percent on 3-pointers. They were better from long distance than Denver, but the Nuggets shot 54.8 percent from the field and made 12 more free throws than the Warriors. 

Nuggets star Nikola Jokic added to his MVP case with 32 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists.  

Here are three takeaways from a hard-fought loss that dropped the Warriors to 43-22 on the season.

Substitute Splash Brothers 

With Curry and Thompson out, Jordan Poole and Moses Moody were tasked with providing the points for the Warriors. They didn't disappoint. 

Moody came into Monday night on a streak of making 11 straight shots. He extended that to 13, the most by any Warrior this season, and scored 15 points in the first quarter. The rookie didn't stop there. 

By the second quarter he had a new career-high of 22 points and finished with 30, making five 3-pointers.
For Jordan Poole, his night was a bit of a different story. He was held scoreless in the first quarter and attempted only two shots. He then scored 11 points in the second quarter and that heat-check swagger was back. Poole finished with 32 points and made eight 3-pointers. 

The two combined two score 62 points and went 13-for-24 (54.2 percent) on 3-point attempts.

Help From Santa Cruz

The last time Chris Chiozza played in an NBA game was Feb. 1 when the Warriors again were shorthanded. The 5-foot-11 point guard scored nine points in that comeback win. On Monday night, he helped the Warriors with eight assists off the bench, including a handful of dimes.

Quinndary Weatherspoon has been putting on a show in the G League, averaging 24.9 points per game for Santa Cruz. He hadn't played in an NBA game since Feb. 3 and came into Denver playing only five games for the Warriors. The 25-year-old certainly took advantage of his opportunity. 

Weatherspoon played a season-high 16 minutes and scored a season-high 11 points while going 4-for-5 from the field and making both of his shots from beyond the arc.

The G League has played a major role the past two seasons for key players like Moody, Poole and Jonathan Kuminga. It's always great to see the Santa Cruz pipeline making waves at the highest level.

Making Free Throws Is Fun

In Saturday night's eight-point loss to the Lakers, the Warriors made only nine of their 19 free throw attempts. Their shortcomings there have been costing them in major ways. Maybe it was the absence of Wiggins, who has struggled mightily recently from the free line recently, but Golden State was much, much better from the charity stripe against the Nuggets. 

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The Warriors shot 23 free throws and made 17 of them, good for a 73.9 percent clip. There's just one problem: The Nuggets shot 41 (!) free throws and their 29 points from the line made a big difference. 

It still was good to see the Warriors succeed more on their free throws, and the offense certainly took a step forward with the majority of their key pieces out.

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