DENVER -- The Warriors have prided themselves on being gritty. They've often praised themselves for staying close instead of caving like the Warriors of the past.
But Friday's performance in Denver looked more like the old Golden State than the scrappy squad that won seven of the first 12. The Warriors lost 102-91 to the Nuggets. But it looked worse than the score might indicate.
Instead of getting revenge on the team that handed them a heartbreaking double-overtime loss at Oracle Arena on Nov. 10, the Warriors got spanked.
"Needless to say, especially after our last game against them, they're not our favorite team," forward David Lee said of the Nuggets after he finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
The Warriors (7-6), who host Minnesota on Saturday, were outscored by 17 in the second half. They looked downright silly much of the fourth quarter, thanks to unforced errors and defensive lapses that led to highlights by Denver swingman Andre Iguodala and center JaVale McGee.
The Warriors shot 36.8 percent in the second half and went down without much resistance, which had been unusual for this Golden State squad.
"The third quarter," coach Mark Jackson said, "we didn't match their intensity, we didn't take care of the basketball, we were not committed to getting back in transition. I'm disappointed with the way we came out of the locker room in the third quarter. And it snowballed from there."
Golden State all but played without point guard Stephen Curry, who logged just 26 minutes because of fouls and ineffective play. After leading the Warriors to consecutive noteworthy victories (at Dallas and over visiting Brooklyn) earlier this week, Curry finished with six points and four turnovers.
"I was kind of back-and-forth off the bench in the first half," Curry said. "But that's no excuse. I've got to be more aggressive, whether I'm shooting or making plays."
His teammates picked up the slack in the first half. But in the second half, not so much.
The Warriors led 53-47 at halftime despite point Curry not even taking shot and playing just 13 minutes because of foul trouble.
How did Golden State do it? Guard Klay Thompson got hot, knocking down four 3-pointers en route to 16 first-half points. Lee was giving the Warriors an inside presence, knocking down half of his 12 shots.
Whatever momentum the Warriors had entering the locker room with a lead was gone quickly after they emerged.
"I think, ultimately, we were fortunate to be up at halftime," Jackson said. "To me it was fool's gold. They outplayed us, but we had the lead. And we didn't respond in the third quarter. Simple as that."
The Nuggets took control of the game with a 15-0 run to start the third quarter. Golden State seemed content with jump shots early in the second half. Five of the Warriors' first six shots of the third quarter were jumpers, including three straight 3-point attempts.
By the time Nuggets swingman Andre Iguodala hit a corner 3-pointer -- after having time to set his feet and recite a sonnet -- the Warriors were down 57-53 with 9:13 left in the third.
Jackson punched the air in frustration, calling a timeout. Golden State's next four possessions resulted in three missed shots and a turnover. Another Iguodala 3-pointer put the Warriors down 62-53.
With the Warriors ice cold from outside, they turned to Carl Landry, who helped settle things. He scored three straight baskets inside to keep Denver from running away with the game, the latter cutting Denver's lead to 68-63 with 4:44 left.
Landry finished with 19 points off the bench. The Warriors trailed 78-70 entering third quarter.
Golden State still trailed by eight two minutes into the fourth quarter. But Denver turned it into a rout with a 9-0 run. The spurt was highlighted by a thunderous dunk by McGee, and the foul, then a driving tomahawk by Iguodala, who finished with a game-high 29 points.
At the six-minute mark, the embarrassment reached its peak. Iguodala was inbounding the ball under Denver's basket. With a move that encapsulated the second half, he threw the ball off the back of an unaware Lee and stepped in for an uncontested two-hand dunk.
"They earned the right to throw lobs and celebrate," Jackson said. "Who am I to criticize? I've been part of the dance team (in my playing days). But it's got to bother you to the point where you make adjustments, and we did not."