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Warriors 110, Nuggets 108

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry's two free throws with 1:54 to go gave Golden State a six-point lead and the Warriors held off the Denver Nuggets in a fast-and-furious finish to win 110-108 on Friday night and take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference playoff series.

Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday night in Oakland.

The Nuggets had chances to tie and win down the stretch as the Warriors went the final 2:31 without a field goal. But missed shots and turnovers combined to thwart the effort.

After Ty Lawson's three-point play got Denver within 108-105 with 1:48 to go, the Nuggets forced a turnover but couldn't take advantage as Lawson missed a jumper.

Then after Curry, who finished with 29 points, couldn't finish at the rim, Lawson took a crack at a tie with 54 seconds left but couldn't connect on a wide-open 3-pointer.

Again Curry misfired for Golden State, but again the Nuggets got no closer as Andre Iguodala's pass for Kenneth Faried was stolen.

Jarrett Jack seemed to give the Warriors an important cushion with a free throw for a 109-105 lead with 21.5 seconds left, but this time the Nuggets hit a big shot with Wilson Chandler burying a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to one with 16.5 seconds left.

The Warriors called a timeout with 9.4 seconds left but then couldn't inbound the ball the allotted five seconds, giving Denver possession down just one with a chance to pull out a victory.

But Lawson, who had a game-high 35 points, got double-teamed in the right corner and stumbled, losing the ball out of bounds with 5.3 seconds left.

Jack backed Curry with 23 points for the Warriors and Carl Landry had 19.

Four Nuggets scored in double figures to back Lawson, led by Corey Brewer with 16. Kenneth Faried added 15 points, Iguodala 14 and Chandler 11.

The Warriors answered every Nuggets challenge in the fourth quarter, during which the teams were never separated by more than six points.

The Warriors erased all of a 12-point halftime deficit, and more, in the third quarter by doing something they couldn't do in the first half -- protect the ball.

After a 3-pointer by Lawson had increased the Denver lead to 71-58 in the fourth minute of the quarter, Curry (seven), Harrison Barnes (five) and Jack (four) did all of the Warriors' scoring in a 16-2 game-changing run that gave Golden State a 74-73 lead.

The Warriors, who suffered through 14 first-half turnovers while falling behind 66-54, gave it up just twice in the third quarter, which ended with Golden State holding an 87-84 advantage.

The Warriors tried just about everything to contain Lawson in the first half. None of it worked, and the Nuggets took advantage to build a 66-54 advantage mostly on the strength of his 19 points.

When the speedy point guard wasn't dribbling circles around Golden State defenders, he was drawing fouls on them. Seven of his 19 first-half points came at the free-throw line. The rest came on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets used their quickness on defense to harass the Warriors into 14 turnovers, which the visitors turned into 20 points.

After giving up 32 points in an even first quarter, the Denver pressure eventually got to Jack, who went 5 of 5 from the field with just one turnover in the first quarter but then 0 of 2 with three turnovers in the second quarter as the Warriors were held to 22 points.

NOTES: Oracle Arena was a sea of yellow for the game, with every ticket-holder receiving a yellow t-shirt with "WE ARE WARRIORS" stamped across the front in blue. ... Asked before the game what kind of impact he expected the home crowd to have, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said, "They won't win the ballgame." ... The Nuggets nearly won both regular-season meetings in Oakland. After rallying for a 107-101 double-overtime win on Nov. 10, the Nuggets appeared also to win on Nov. 29, only to have a video review overturn a 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala just after the final horn in what became a 106-105 Warriors victory. ... Nuggets coach George Karl explained before the game why he was inserting Kenneth Faried into the starting lineup after not having been impressed with the big guy's performance off the bench in Game 2. "We need his energy and passion on the court." ... The Warriors' Curry (11.0) and Jarrett Jack (8.5) ranked 1-2 in the playoffs in assists per game through Thursday's games, with the Nuggets' Ty Lawson (8.0) tied for third. ... Karl is familiar with Warriors playoff upsets. In his first full season as Warriors coach in 1986-87, Karl led Golden State into the playoffs as the No. 5 seed and then presided over a 3-2 upset of fourth-seeded Utah in the first round of the playoffs. ... Game 3 of the series marked the 200th playoff appearance for Karl, 182 as an NBA coach. He also played 17 playoff games in the ABA and one in the NBA. Jackson, meanwhile, was participating in his 134th playoff game, 131 as a player and his third as a coach.
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