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Hot-shooting Warriors even series with Nuggets

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- Kenneth Faried was back, David Lee was done and the Denver Nuggets were playing on the friendliest court in the league.

A Game 2 win and a commanding lead in the series seemed like a given for the NBA's best home team.

Things certainly didn't go as scripted for the No. 3 seed.

Stephen Curry scored 30 points and had 13 assists, and the hot-shooting Golden State Warriors beat the Nuggets 131-117 on Tuesday night to even the Western Conference quarterfinal series at a game apiece.

Jarrett Jack had 26 for Golden State, which ended Denver's 24-game home win streak with a blistering night from the field.

"Everybody had good looks," Curry said. "Just a matter of executing our passes, getting the ball to the man that's open and letting him make plays."

Harrison Barnes scored 24 and Klay Thompson added 21 to give the Warriors four players with more than 20 points despite losing their best low-post player in Lee in Game 1.

It was the Nuggets' first loss at Pepsi Center since Jan. 18 and the most points they have allowed this season.

Ty Lawson had 19 points and 12 assists and Corey Brewer scored 19 points for the Nuggets, who need to win a game on the road to get homecourt advantage back. Game 3 is Friday night in Oakland.

Golden State had a scare when Curry turned his ankle in the second half. He came out of the game for a bit but returned to hit a 3-pointer with 11:02 left, his final points of the night.

"I planted for a step-back and it turned," he said. "I'll be OK for Friday."

The Warriors overcame the loss of forward Lee with a blistering performance from the field. They shot a franchise playoff record 64.6 percent from the field, led by Curry, who got hot early and never cooled off.

The shooting percentage was the highest in the NBA playoffs since Utah hit 65 percent against Phoenix on April 25, 1991.

"We didn't do much of anything very well," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We let the shooters get into the game."

The Nuggets didn't have an answer for the Warriors. Every Golden State player that took a shot was at least 50 percent from the field.

"One thing about us shooting great, (we) weren't taking crazy shots," rookie Draymond Green said. "We were driving, getting kick-outs, getting offensive rebounds. It wasn't like we were coming off screens and heaving up shots. It was a good shooting night but it's what we expect."

Golden State opened the second half by scoring the first seven points to take a 66-53 lead. It grew to 17 before Denver made a run to cut it to 76-69, but Thompson hit a 3-pointer and Barnes hit two buckets to make it 96-80 heading into the fourth.

"I thought we were aggressive as a team," Jack said. "We took the approach we were going to hit first. We established ourselves early on and it was a team effort from there."

Denver cut it to eight early in the fourth quarter but the Warriors went on a 10-3 run to put it away.

"Man, they were just knocking it down," Lawson said. "They had more intensity and it was more urgent for them. It was a must-win for them and for us it was like a walk in the park. We just were not paying attention."

The Nuggets hoped to get a spark from the return of Faried from a sprained ankle but the forward struggled. The team's leading rebounder was held to two boards in 21 minutes as Denver was outrebounded 36-26.

The Warriors threw a wrinkle in from the beginning of the game. Carl Landry was introduced as the starter in place of Lee, but coach Mark Jackson put Jack on the floor at the opening tip. The small lineup worked well for Golden State.

"Even if he would have said I was coming off the bench, I'm comfortable with that as well," Jack said. "We trust in (Jackson's) decisions and believe in him 100 percent."

Curry shook off a 2-for-8 start to give the Warriors a spark in the second quarter. He hit six straight shots and scored 15 of his 17 first-half points in the period as Golden State went on a 13-2 run to take a 56-45 lead.

The Warriors led 61-53 at the break.

NOTES: Brewer's 11 3-point attempts were the most by a Nugget in a playoff game since Michael Adams on April 30, 1989. ... Faried got a loud ovation from the Nuggets fans when he checked into the game with 3:51 left in the first. ... After a rough start to Game 1, both teams were hot after the opening tip Tuesday. They combined to hit nine of the first 10 shots. ... Nuggets coach George Karl exchanged text messages Tuesday morning with former assistant Mike Dunlap, who was fired as the coach of Charlotte. "About 80 percent of Mike Dunlap probably is sad and despondent because he wants the opportunity to try to continue coaching in the league, and there'll be a piece of him that will be relieved," Karl said. "Coaching a tough team, a losing team, is sometimes being put out of your misery sometimes."
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