The Denver Nuggets may be out of playoff contention, but that doesn’t mean they can’t spoil the postseason hopes of others.
Such was the case on Thursday, as Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried hit a hook shot over Draymond Green with less than a second to go to stun the Warriors in Oakland, 100-99, and ruin what would have been a playoff-clinching win for Golden State.
“It was unbelievable,” Faried said on Ferrall on the Bench. “It was a great finish for me to hit that shot. My coaches and my teammates (trusted) me and (believed) in me to get the ball in the last minute and basically go get a bucket for us to win.”
Faried’s game-winner came right after Stephen Curry hit a floater – over Faried, actually – that gave the Warriors a 99-98 lead with 4.7 seconds to play. The Nuggets didn’t panic.
“We’re going to win this game,” Faried said, explaining their mindset in the ensuing timeout. “Coach (Brian Shaw) was very adamant about it. We were going to win that game. He drew up a play on the sideline and said, ‘Kenneth, we’re going to go for you for the last shot. We’re going to give you this chance. You deserve it. Go ahead and go get this bucket.’ My teammates said, ‘Go ahead. Go win this game for us.’ And that’s exactly what I did.”
Curry’s 30-footer at the buzzer rimmed out. He finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Ferrall asked Faried if he had ever hit a more “kick-ass” shot in his career.
“I’ve never hit a shot like that,” Faried said, laughing. “It was just amazing to have that opportunity.”
Faried finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds, while teammate Timofey Mozgov had 23 points and an astounding 29 rebounds.
“Oh yeah, we know he’s capable of that,” Faried said. “We saw a glimpse of it when we played the Brooklyn Nets at their place one time. He’s getting better and better every day, and today he proved that, ‘Hey, I can rebound with the best of them and I can help us basically win games (by) rebounding and dominating inside of the post.’”
Denver (35-44) trailed by as many as 20 in the first half but came back, as Golden State (48-30) got out-rebounded 63-38, including 25-6 on the offensive glass. The Warriors have a one-game lead on Phoenix (47-31) and Dallas (48-32), which are seeded seventh and eighth, respectively, in the Western Conference, and a two-game lead over Memphis (46-32), which is on the outside looking in entering play April 11.
Denver plays the Jazz on Saturday and the Clippers on Tuesday before closing the season at home against, yes, Golden State on Wednesday.
Perhaps Faried’s shot will give the Nuggets a little momentum heading into the offseason.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to do that,” he said. “And we got the W. That’s all that matters to me.”