Warriors 92, Nuggets 88

Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter Thursday night, and the Golden State Warriors spurted past the Denver Nuggets and held on down the stretch for a 92-88 victory that wrapped up a 4-2 upset in the best-of-seven first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The series victory for the sixth-seeded Warriors earns them a second-round matchup with second-seeded San Antonio, with the Spurs hosting Game 1 on Monday.
The Warriors-Spurs pairing is their first in the playoffs since Golden State, as the No. 7 seed, upset the second-seeded Spurs 3-1 in a best-of-five first-round series in 1991.
The Warriors and Spurs split their four-game series in the regular season, with San Antonio basically conceding the final meeting April 15, electing to rest four starters. All four games were won by the home team.
Golden State swept its three home games against the Nuggets, although Game 6 appeared tilted in Denver's direction during a first half in which the visitors led by as many as 11.
The Warriors turned that around in the third quarter. But just when they seemed totally in control, leading 80-62 with just 9:07 to go, it was Denver -- with its defense forcing 10 fourth-quarter turnovers -- that mounted one last comeback, falling just short.
The Nuggets used a 13-0 flurry to get within arm's length at 80-75 with 4:42 to go. When Andre Iguodala connected on a 3-pointer with 1:02 left, Denver was within 90-87.
A Kenneth Faried free throw made it a two-point game with 32.4 seconds left, after which the Nuggets forced Golden State's 21st turnover of the game.
However, the Nuggets couldn't connect on two shots in the lane, including a point-blank tip attempt by Wilson Chandler, and Golden State was able to ice its first playoff-series victory in six years with two Jarrett Jack free throws with 7.3 seconds left.
Curry led the Warriors with 22 points, 14 of which came in the decisive third period. Andrew Bogut had 14 points to go with 21 rebounds, and Draymond Green added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Jack, hitting nine of his 10 free throws, scored 13 points, and Harrison Barnes had 11.
The Warriors even got a surprising boost from David Lee, who suffered what appeared to be a season-ending torn hip flexor in the first game of the season. Lee suited up and got 1 minute, 27 seconds of action in the first quarter, recording one rebound.
Iguodala, making five of his eight 3-point attempts, led Denver with 24 points. Ty Lawson added 17 points, and Chandler had 11. Faried finished with an 11-point, 11-rebound double-double.
When the Nuggets missed their four shots of the fourth quarter, then found themselves down 80-62 with just 9:07 to go. But they didn't go down without a fight.
Denver scored the next 13 points, and even though Green ended a 4 1/2-minute Warriors drought with a driving hoop, a 3-pointer by Iguodala shockingly had the Nuggets within 82-78 with 4:14 to go, setting up the frantic finish.
The day began with Warriors coach Mark Jackson being informed he was being fined $25,000 for what the NBA labeled "making public comments in an attempt to influence the officiating." It was unclear if that was a reference to his remarks immediately following the Warriors' 107-100 loss in Denver on Tuesday night or his comments before practice Wednesday in Oakland, or perhaps both.
If Jackson's comments had any influence on the game, it was in silencing the referees for the most part. Only two fouls were called in the entire first quarter, resulting in just two free throws.
NOTES: Jackson left the door open before the game regarding a possible appeal of his fine. "I don't like it. I disagree, but that will take care of itself," he said, noting he's never been fired for criticizing the referees in his two-year coaching career. "My body of work will speak for itself." ... When informed Jackson had been fined for "attempting to influence the officiating," Nuggets coach George Karl responded, "Interesting interpretation." ... Karl acknowledged getting a good-natured text during the day from Stephen Curry's father, Dell, a longtime friend. ... The Warriors entered the game with a 9-1 record in home playoff games when they've had a chance to close out an opponent since moving West in 1962. They beat top-seeded Dallas in a similar situation in Game 6 of the 2007 playoffs, an upset that still stands as one of the biggest in NBA history.

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