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OAKLAND -- The Warriors thought they were over the self-immolation, beyond those awful nights when they victimized themselves in front of their fans.
They invited another such game on Thursday, and this one cut deeper than the rest.
With an opportunity to clinch their second consecutive trip to the playoffs, and do it in front of their faithful fans at Oracle Arena, the Warriors stood and watched and eventually welcomed a 100-99 loss to one of the least impressive Nuggets teams in recent years.
"There are a lot of reasons why there is a terrible feeling in the locker room," point guard Stephen Curry said. "We could have taken care of a playoff spot, taken care of home court like we needed to going forward, in the playoffs. I don't now if I'd call it a setback, but it's definitely not how we envisioned the night going."
Denver was without starting point guard Ty Lawson, without starting center J.J. Hickson and without sixth man Nate Robinson. Also not on the trip to Oakland: center JaVale McGee and forwards Wilson Chandler and Danili Gallinari.
Having played Wednesday night in Denver, the Nuggets arrived on a silver platter, tasty morsels primed for sacrifice.
And the Warriors (48-30) dropped it in such a disturbing way that this game most certainly will linger in the mind of CEO Joe Lacob, who spends a considerable amount of time contemplating the future of coach Mark Jackson.
On a night made for a celebration, Jackson's Warriors got outworked.
"We still had a chance to win the basketball game – but we didn't deserve to win that game," forward Draymond Green said. "Getting outrebounded like that, that's a recipe for disaster. It would be very misleading to us to win that game when you get outrebounded like that.
"We didn't want to lose the game, but we didn't deserve to win."
The score was infinitely closer than the relative effort levels. While the Warriors snagged 38 rebounds, Denver (35-44) labored for 63, 25 coming on the offensive glass. Center Timofey Mozgov grabbed 29 and power forward Kenneth Faried 17.
That's right, Mozgov and Faried outrebounded the entire Warriors roster, which was led by Andrew Bogut's eight and Stephen Curry's seven.
"There's no real secret what happened tonight," Bogut said. "They just outworked us and (outmuscled) us."
Denver's 27-4 rout on second-chance points was a direct result of the biggest rebounding disparity of the season for the Warriors, the biggest since the Nuggets outrebounded them by 33 in April 2012.
"It's the responsibility of our bigs," Jackson said. "But it's on everybody because when we are at our best our perimeter guys are getting in there and rebounding the basketball. We did a poor job collectively."
They did a fine job for the first 20 minutes. After taking a 28-15 first-quarter lead, the Warriors were up 20 (47-27) when Klay Thompson nailed a 3-pointer with 4:46 left in the half.
Denver bounced back with an 11-0 to get back into the game. The Nuggets kept scrapping and sweating, ignoring any fatigue resulting from playing on back-to-back nights, until they caught up in the fourth quarter.
And every Warriors late rally was met with a steely response.
When Curry dropped in a floater to give the Warriors a 99-98 lead with 4.7 seconds to play, Denver coach Brian Shaw called a timeout, after which Faried backed Green into the paint and dropped in the game-winning jump hook with 0.5 seconds left.
THE GOOD: The Warriors played solid perimeter defense, holding three Denver guards to 13-of-48 shooting.
Curry's 12-point fourth quarter and late floater nearly salvaged a dreadful team performance.
THE BAD: The Warriors were dominated on the glass, beaten in the paint and taken apart by the first 20-20 game of Mozgov's career.
It was clear early that Bogut, a usually solid defender, had no answer for Mozgov.
In a battle of similar players, Faried owned Green in most every conceivable way.
THE TAKE: Given the circumstances, and how well the Warriors had played in the last two games, this was shockingly, inexplicably bad. They went from looking as if they were prepared to clinch a berth to looking as if they were sleepwalking. The Warriors have lost seven home games to teams at or below .500, and this one was worst of all.