By Marcus Thompson II
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.
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 …”
Warriors coach Mark Jackson still won’t say who will start in place of injured forward David Lee. No matter whom Jackson taps, veteran Carl Landry will play a significant role in Game 2 on Tuesday.
That isn’t the worst fall-back plan. Landry, in his fourth playoffs, represents one of Golden State’s most experienced players.
“I’m not David Lee. I’m not an All-star. I don’t average 20 points and I don’t average 12 rebounds per game. But I can pick up some of the weight that was lost.”
Landry proved to be a coup for Warriors management. General manager Bob Myers pulled off the improbable signing late in the summer, inking Landry to a two-year deal worth $8 million (with a player option for next season). But Landry can etch himself and Myers into Warriors’ lore with a big performance in place of Lee.
Such is even more likely if Landry gets back to the inside game that helped lead the Warriors into the playoffs.
Both the Warriors and Nuggets feature noted depth. It may come down to who has the best pinch-hitters because some key players are affected by injuries.
The Warriors, already without Brandon Rush, were hoping to be full strength by the postseason. But they have a few lingering issues that could test their bench.
The Nuggets have caught the injury bug of late at key positions at key positions.
Here’s a look at the hobbled and their status for Game 1.
Game 1 - Sat., April 20: Golden State at Denver, 2:30 PM (PST), ESPN
Game 2 - Tue., April 23: Golden State at Denver, 7:30 PM (PST), TNT
Game 3 - Fri., April 26: Denver at Golden State, 7:30 PM (PST), ESPN2
Game 4 - Sun., April 28: Denver at Golden State, 6:30 PM (PST), TNT
Game 5 * Tue., April 30: Golden State at Denver, TBD
Game 6 * Thu., May 2: Denver at Golden State, TBD
Game 7 * Sat., May 4: Golden State at Denver, TBD