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Warriors Survive and Advance, Finish off Nuggets 4-2

By Marcus Thompson II

mthomps2@bayareanewsgroup.com

OAKLAND — It might’ve taken all the defibrillators in the Bay Area to revive the nearly 20,000 fans at Oracle Arena whose hearts stopped Thursday.

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Golden State nearly squandered an 18-point lead, and another star-like performance from point guard Stephen Curry — who changed the tide of the game with another big third quarter before his home crowd. But in the end, after a compilation of turnovers, guard Jarrett Jack made a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal the 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets, clinching the riveting first-round upset, 4-2.

The sixth-seeded Warriors advance to the second round against the No. 2 San Antonio Spurs. Game 1 is Monday in Texas.

“When we were down in the first half,” coach Mark Jackson said. “I pulled him aside and said, ‘There’s going to be a point in this game where you’re going to take over because you’re the best player on the floor. And what will happen is everybody else will follow you. And sure enough …”

In Game 4, Curry turned the game around with 22 points in the third quarter, 19 over a four-minute stretch.  In Game 6, he had 14 points and three assists during the game-changing run.

He started it with a drive to the basket, which led to a pair of free throws that tied the game at 44 with 10:13 left in the third. After Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler missed a jumper, Curry knocked down a 3-pointer to stoke the Oracle faithful.  After Chandler missed a 3, Curry knocked down another 3-pointer, capping a 10-0 run and putting the Warriors ahead 50-44.

Curry drilled his third straight 3-pointer to put Golden State up 55-49.  Then, having seized the attention of the entire Nuggets’ lineup, he drove past Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson and slipped a pass to center Andrew Bogut — who had 13 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks in 39 minuets — for a two-hand dunk.

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Forward Carl Landry put the Warriors up 64-53 with a three-point play at the 5:22 mark. Golden State led by 11 entering the fourth quarter.

“I have confidence,” Curry said. “No matter what happened before that period of the game … I have the utmost confidence in the next play, in the next play. Especially at home, you start to feel the energy of the crowd … I just have confidence and try to make an imprint because the opportunity is huge right now. It’s a big stage. … I have to live up to it.”

The Warriors then, with Curry on the bench, opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run to push the lead to 18. Rookie forward Harrison Barnes converted a fast-break layup. The Warriors then got a 3-pointer from rookie forward Draymond Green, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds to become first Warriors rookie since Chris Webber in 1994 to post a double-double in the playoffs. Guard Klay Thompson’s pull-up jumper had the Warriors ahead 80-62 with 9:11 left.

Oracle was rocking. Denver was on the ropes. The Spurs staff might have even popped in the Warriors’ game film at that point.

But then it all disappeared. For the next five minutes, the Warriors fell apart like a stale cookie.

It was almost a colossal choke job as the Warriors managed just 19 fourth-quarter points and turned it over 10 times in the fourth quarter, succumbing to the pressure of the desperate Nuggets.

Golden State’s next eight possessions were squandered with four missed jumpers and four turnovers. That led to a 13-0 Nuggets run, shifting the pressure pendulum completely over to the Warriors.  A pair of free throws by Nuggets guard Andre Miller cut the Warriors’ once-18-point lead to 80-75 with 4:42 left.

It looked as if Golden State had held off Denver after Curry drove past Nuggets guard Ty Lawson and scooped in a layup, putting the Warriors up nine with 2:10 left.

But Denver swingman Andre Iguodala, who led Denver with 24 points, answered with a 3-pointer.  Then Denver turned up the pressure defense and the Warriors struggled mightily, mostly while trying to force it to Curry.

Golden State’s next four possessions ended with a turnover — one of them an offensive rebound by Green that was stolen away by Chandler and converted to a layup, trimming the Warriors’ lead to 88-84 with 1:14 left.

Rookie Harrison Barnes hit a pair of free throws but Iguodala answered with another 3-pointer, cutting the deficit to 90-87. The Warriors’ advantage was down to two with 32.4 seconds left after Denver forward Kenneth Faried split a pair of free throws.

But the Warriors, trying to force it to Curry, turned it over again, as Thompson’s pass sailed over Curry’s head at halfcourt. Fans breathed a huge sigh of relief as Chandler’s ensuing runner rimmed out, as did his putback, and the Warriors got the ball back.

Following multiple heart-stopping attempts to inbound the ball. Jack sealed it from the line with 7.3 seconds left.

“It was ugly,” Thompson said. “We can’t let this happen again. But we finished it out. We’re going to the next round. That’s what matters.”

Marcus Thompson

  • JEY

    And around the Bay Area a collective PHEW was unleashed mightily. Can’t wait for your write-up of this game Marcus, I’ve been reading all season.

    PS. At 1:14, I believe it was a Green defensive rebound that was stripped away and laid in.

  • earl monroe

    The formula for success held up- Keep them from running and win the battle of the boards. When Denver had to play half court offense they could not make a shot, they could not make the necessary last shot. The Warriors won but they played true to form as well, playing loose and careless with the ball the guards almost cost us the game, mental errors like this normally cost you this time we got lucky.

  • Stan

    That “Special season” rolls on. And Denvers season is over.
    How do I do it? Genius!
    What I love about myself- I’m so humble. And modest.

  • Jaytee

    Why is Jack dribbling down the shot clock for 80% of his possessions??? Someone needs to kick him in the rear and remind him to share the ball! That’s why they lost the lead.

  • haasthemnan

    Phew is right. Sitting in the stands was a roler coaster of emotions the whole game. The refs were terrible in the first half, and the warriors looked like they were playing a little tight. Especially in the second quarter. Then, late in the second qtr we went on a run, and cut a 12pt lead to a 2pt lead in a matter of minutes. At that point, I knew this game was ours. The third qtr and first half of the fourth qtr reminded us all that when the warriors are rolling, they are exciting to watch. The arena was on fire! No one sat the whole 2nd half. And then Iggy comes alive, and we literally tried to throw the game away. It’s really hard to win, if you can’t inbound the ball. I’m breathing a sigh of relief, and am overjoyed that the warriors not only made the playoffs, but won a playoff series. However, the spurs will not allow the warriors to play that sloppy style of basketball. We are really going to have to play a different brand of basketball against the spurs. David Lee’s presence will help for this series. Big ups to David Lee’s Metta World Peace like recovery on the torn hip flexor.

  • http://designedbythai.com Thai

    Not sure if you addressed this, but how good would the warriors be if they had Brandon Rush all season long? Add another 4-5 victories to their record?

  • Ewok

    It was a Nerve Wracking, Panicky, and quite frankly; and sloppy, ugly win.. But it was a very sweet ugly win.

    Am i criticising the Warriors for the ugly win? No.

    The Sloppiness was due to miscommunication. And the miscommunication was due to the inexperience in dealing with a much celebrated series like the Playoffs.. How else can that be explained? You are leading by 20 with seven minutes left and you forget the game and celebrate with the crowd without finishing?

    It’s inexperience and immaturity! Not just with the Players but with the coach as well.. Why did we go small in the last two minutes when its very evident the Nuggets will go full court press?

    The Nuggets rallied behind by capitalizing from our miscues? and we won through Harrison Barnes’ charities? That’s unbecoming..

    BUT! That is still acceptable because of the fact that as a very young team, we needed these incidents to happen NOW because it will happen again LATER. Count on the Spurs to exploit this weakness… So at this point, we certainly grew as a playoff team, a team that can face adversity and pressure..

    San Antonio is a much experienced team than we are.. and we are still learning.. But that doesnt mean we can’t beat them and we can do that if we play and stick IN FAITH together as a team. That togetherness will bring miracles..

    We can match with San Antonio. Maybe not in terms of experience but in terms of talent and intensity.. And I know we can beat them if we play together, body and soul.

  • Ewok

    No one believed The Dubs could go this far.. I surely did not… even the Warriors themselves didn’t expect they will go this far.. Before the series, Curry implied the realistic goal was not to get swept and that will be good enough momentum for next year.

    Well, the Warriors have proven one thing to the very last minute… and that’s their ability TO DEFY LOGIC. They have defied logic all season long…

    Last year, they have a total of 23 wins so who would’ve given them a thought to make the playoffs? Currently they have around 51 wins total! From 23 to 51 wins? That’s just incredible! Before the season started, Basketball “experts” seeded them to make it to no.8 and that is if they’re lucky enough.. Well they landed to number 6 instead..

    After making the playoffs, I, along with millions of fans thought they have already achieved what they’re suppose to achieve within the timetable so its very logical that Denver will beat them with a legitimate hope that is scaled to a realistic 2 wins… Well they won the series and they are now advancing to the second round or the Elite 8.. Golden State indeed has become an elite team this year and they will continue to catch attention and interest in the league.. Legitimate players will now consider joining this team for real.

    Kudos to the Front Office.. Jerry West in particular.

    Kudos to the New Owner.. He surely has a great plan and he knows how to bring us there…

    Kudos to the Coach… Hands down.. The Coach of the Year.

    Kudos the the General Manager

  • Ewok

    I also would like to think a certain factor about the Warriors success.. Nobody knows for sure, including themselves, how strong the Warriors are.. What exactly is their level as a winning team.. We know they are winning but are they an elite team? It turns out they are more than elite team as they seem to PEAK just about the right time… and they are still peaking..

    Let me explain, The Warriors were surprisingly impressive during the series and this is with the fact that they were without Bogut and Rush.

    Now they are without Lee and they still managed to advance further to the second round of the playoffs..

    So Lets imagine if Rush, Lee and Bogut are 100 percent (and these are our veterans), Just imagine how strong we can be?

    Good News. When we finally dump Biedrins and Jefferson’s contract and get more impact players like Al Jefferson or Nowitski.. I think were going to be a very scary team.

  • Oahu808

    Will take that series!!!
    But Jack in the fourth quarter makes me REALLY NERVOUS!
    It seems that when he came in during the fourth we lost lots of momentum.

  • Stan

    We can take SA. Duncan is on vapors and Parker hasn’t been the same since Eva. Our youngin’s can do it. At sea level too this time..plenty of air.

  • Rami

    The Spurs play deliberate and structured basketball..so we must take them out of that and it can be done by making Parker/Genobli shoot more contested shots and keep Duncan as far away form the rim as possible this will bring down his shooting percentage and keeps him from getting offensive boards.
    Warriors must utilize their youth by running extermely hard thoughout the game and this should have Jackson do alot substitutions to keep the guys fresh.He should put Biedrins,Green even Bezmore in the first half to buy some minutes for our starters in the fourth qtr,

    Dubs in7 & it’ll feel like heaven
    Go warriors