DENVER // Stephen Curry was just about unstoppable in the fourth quarter, except near the very end.
Curry scored 20 of his 38 points in the final period but lost the ball under defensive pressure from Danilo Gallinari in the last moments, allowing the Denver Nuggets to hang on to hand the Golden State Warriors their third loss of the season, 112-110 on Wednesday night.
“It was a great opportunity to try to tie the game or take the lead,” Curry said about the last of his eight turnovers. “Got stuck between looking for the open man and handling the ball, and one little mishandle and Gallinari got it.”
The defending NBA champion Warriors (36-3) had won seven straight since their previous defeat, 114-91 at Dallas on Dec. 30.
Gallinari led the Nuggets with 28 points but it was his defense at the game’s critical moment that made the difference, Nuggets coach Michael Malone said.
“Gallo has proven this year he can guard most players on the floor,” Malone said. “And he did a great job. He got into a stance, forced a deflection, was first to the floor and comes out with the loose ball. Those are winning plays. Those are what separate teams and we had enough winning plays tonight where we were able to withstand the furious comeback that they made.”
Will Barton added 21 points for the Nuggets, who snapped a four-game losing streak to the Warriors despite being outscored 37-29 in the final period.
The Clippers improved to 10 straight wins with a 104-90 victory over the Heat with backup center Cole Aldrich scoring 19 points and making seven rebounds in place of ailing DeAndre Jordan, who was sidelined because of pneumonia, ending the NBA’s longest active consecutive games played streak at 360.
At Oklahoma, Kevin Durant had 29 points and 10 rebounds as the Thunder romped to a 108-89 win against a Dallas lineup missing its usual starters.
Thunder star Russell Westbrook was ejected in the second quarter after getting his second technical foul following skirmishes with J.J. Barea. Westbrook went scoreless.
The Mavericks played the second night of a back-to-back after an overtime loss to Cleveland and coach Rick Carlisle chose not to use his five regular starters – Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons, Deron Williams and Zaza Pachulia.
The Celtics ended a four-game losing streak with a 103-94 win over the Pacers, with Isaiah Thomas scoring 28 points and Jae Crowder matching his career high with 25.
In New York, Brook Lopez scored 20 points, Thaddeus Young had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Brooklyn ended its 10-game home losing streak with a 110-1o4 victory over the Knicks.
Elsewhere, the Wizards beat the Bucks 106-101, the Rockets had a 107-104 win over the Timberwolves, the Hornets beat the Hawks 107-84, the Trail Blazers won 99-85 against the Jazz and the Pelicans tied a team record with 16 3-pointers in a 109-97 victory against the Kings.
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