Curry, Poole and Thompson lead Warriors past Nuggets, 118-113
DENVER (AP) — Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole scored 27 points each, Klay Thompson made six 3-pointers on his way to 26 points and the Golden State Warriors edged past the Denver Nuggets 118-113 Thursday night to take a 3-0 lead in the playoffs
DENVER (AP) — Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole scored 27 points each, Klay Thompson made six 3-pointers on his way to 26 points and the Golden State Warriors edged past the Denver Nuggets 118-113 Thursday night to take a 3-0 lead the playoffs.
Draymond Green added a key steal from Nikola Jokic, who finished with 37 points and 18 rebounds, in the final minute and the Warriors closed on a 9-2 run to put the Nuggets on the brink of elimination.
Golden State can wrap up the series Sunday in Denver. Teams facing a 3-0 deficit in an NBA playoff series are 0-143.
The Nuggets were in control for much of the second half, but after Jokic’s finger layup put Denver ahead 111-109 with 3:20 remaining, the Warriors tightened their defense.
The Nuggets had six straight possessions without scoring and Golden State had the game in hand when Will Barton’s tip with 23 seconds left pulled Denver up 117-113.
Aaron Gordon added 18 points for the Nuggets, who took an 89-87 fourth quarter lead but lost for the seventh straight time in the playoffs.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone complained before the game that his team hadn’t been aggressive, physical or vocal in the series, so he inserted Facundo Campazzo into his rotation after losing the first two games by an average of 18 points.
“When you’re a little understaffed like us, we have to be ultra physical, ultra aggressive and fight them,” Malone said.
Campazzo wasn’t the answer, but the Nuggets came out of halftime with renewed energy and used a 30-18 third quarter to take a two-point fourth quarter lead.
The Nuggets missed their last four shots of the first half and Curry made a 3-point play and a 3-point play to push Golden State’s lead to 69-59 at the break.
Without max players Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (fullback), the Nuggets knew they needed to slow down because they couldn’t keep up with the healthy Warriors.
“We’re in a Pinto, and they’re in a Maserati,” Malone joked.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr laughed at the analogy, noting that he never owned either model.
“I’m somewhere in between,” he said.
There’s no denying his team is fired up, though, after missing the playoffs the past two seasons.
“I think in a way we’re reinvigorated after the last two years,” Kerr said. “We had a long stretch that started before I got here. Seven straight years in the playoffs and five trips to the finals and there was a lot of fatigue in that time, emotional and physical fatigue. It was very easy to say and feel, so the last two years we haven’t made the playoffs.
“The feeling I get from…the guys who have been here a long time is that they’re very happy to be back. So they’re playing with a lot of energy, a lot of excitement.”
Green rolled his left ankle midway through the third quarter but stayed in the game. Jordan Poole went to the bench soon after, grabbing his left elbow. Coaches put a heating pad on his elbow and left forearm, but he returned to action.
The Nuggets don’t exactly have home-court advantage after winning more games on the road (25) than at Ball Arena (23) this season.
“I imagine this place is going to be half full of Warriors fans,” Malone said Wednesday before President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly took to the airwaves to implore Nuggets fans not to. not sell their tickets to Warriors fans.
Still, a protracted broadcast dispute kept Nuggets games off local cable television for three years, presumably leading to a decline in die-hard Denver fans.
Warriors: Curry has at least one 3-pointer in the NBA’s best 115 consecutive playoff games. … The Warriors shot 68 percent from the floor in the first half and six different players combined for a dozen 3-pointers. … Thompson (388) is now in sole possession of third on the NBA Playoffs all-time 3-point list, passing Ray Allen (385).
Nuggets: Denver was outscored in the second quarter of the series by a combined 99-72. They put Golden State on a 16-0 second quarter streak in Game 1, 15-2 in Game 2 and 15-4 in Game 3. … The first sign of the Nuggets’ more aggressive play appeared . the first quarter when Jokic hip-checked Curry on the ground but didn’t whistle just before Austin Rivers’ 3-pointer from the corner.
Arnie Stapleton, Associated Press