Nuggets hold off Warriors; Ingram, Rondo, Paul suspended

October 22, 2018
Rajon Rondo

LOS ANGELES -- Juancho Hernangomez came up with the game-saving block Sunday as the Denver Nuggets held off the two-time defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors 100-98 in a thriller in Denver.

The unbeaten Nuggets handed the Warriors their first defeat of the young season, staking their claim to contender status in Western Conference.

Less than a week into the season, the Nuggets top the West with a perfect 3-0 record.

Earlier,   the NBA came down hard on Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram by suspending him four games while banning teammate  Rajon Rondo three games and Rockets guard Chris Paul two for their roles in a fourth-quarter melee.

The league said in a statement that  Ingram   “has been suspended for aggressively returning to and escalating the altercation and throwing a punch in the direction of Paul, confronting a game official in a hostile  manner, and instigating the overall incident by shoving  Rockets  guard James Harden.

“Rondo has been suspended for instigating a physical altercation with, and spitting and throwing multiple punches at, Paul,” the  statement from executive vide president of basketball operations Kiki VanDeWeghe said.

“Paul has been suspended for poking at and making contact with the face of Rondo, and throwing multiple punches at him.”

Denver led by as many as 11 points in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors, led by 30 points from Stephen Curry, whittled the deficit, knotting the score at 97-97 with 1:29 remaining.

Three missed free throws by the Nuggets in the final 1:18 opened the door for the Warriors, but the visitors couldn't take advantage.

Draymond Green had a chance to tie the game when he missed one of two free throws with 10 seconds remaining and the Warriors trailed by two on their final possession.

Curry drove to the rim, drawing two defenders, and passed to Damian Jones.

As Jones rose for the shot, Hernangomez dived in to bat the ball away from behind.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team is not yet firing on all cylinders

“We’re not where we need to be," said Kerr, whose Warriors led by as many as 12 in the first quarter, and by two at halftime, but were out-scored 33-21 in the third period.

A day after his impressive triple-double against Phoenix, Nikola Jokic scored 23 points with 11 rebounds and six assists for Denver.

Gary Harris added 28 points and the Nuggets forced 18 turnovers in a solid defensive effort against the prolific Warriors.

Russell Westbrook showed little sign of rust in his NBA season debut but his 32 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists weren't enough  to lift Oklahoma City to a first win of the young campaign.

Former NBA Most Valuable Player Westbrook had missed the first two games of the season as he continued his return from arthroscopic knee surgery on September 12.

He started in his customary spot and played 35 minutes -- the most of any Thunder starter -- but it  was the  Sacramento Kings who came up  with their first win of the season  131-120 in Oklahoma City.

Iman Shumpert scored 26 points for the Kings, one of seven Sacramento players to score in double figures.

That included an impressive double-double of 22 points and 10 assists from De'Aaron Fox.

Even after missing all of training camp and the pre-season, Westbrook immediately raised the Thunder's intensity level.

He scored his first points on a driving layup assisted by Paul George less than two minutes into the contest.

He and George combined for 61 points, but the Thunder defense, rated 10th in the league last season, was again too inconsistent.

Elsewhere, the Cleveland Cavaliers remained without a victory since the departure of superstar LeBron James, who landed with the Los Angeles Lakers via free agency after last season.

The Cavs, who have played in the last four NBA finals and won the title in 2016 with James leading the way, dropped their home  opener to the Atlanta Hawks 113-111, falling to 0-3.

The Cavs, who have played in the last four NBA finals and won the title in 2016 with James leading the way, dropped their home opener to the Atlanta Hawks 113-111, falling to 0-3.

In a game billed as a showdown between rookie point guards Trae Young and Collin Sexton, Atlanta's Young exploded for 35 points and 11 assists, with six three-pointers.

Young, drafted fifth overall, became the third rookie since 2000, after James and Golden State star Curry, to surpass 35 points and 10 assists in an NBA game.