Notebook: Nuggets 97, Warriors 95



Posted Apr 20, 2013 11:07 PM

Michael Kelly, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: Andre Miller has never been out of the first round of the playoffs in his 14-year career, so with the game in the balance, he made sure his team got a leg up in Game 1.

Miller hit a driving layup with 1.2 seconds left and the Denver Nuggets rallied in the second half to beat the Golden State Warriors 97-95 to open the Western Conference quarterfinals on Saturday.

Miller scored 18 points in the fourth to finish with a playoff career-high 28 points. Wilson Chandler had 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Nuggets.

Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 22 points and Stephen Curry had 19.

Curry hit a corner 3-pointer with 14.5 seconds left to tie the game at 95 and complete a rally from eight down. It was his 15th point in the second half after he struggled from the floor in the first half.

QUOTABLE: "Coach is going through all of the plays and we were all looking at each other. Andre was hot, we were kind of like, 'Why don't we just get out of the way and let Andre have the ball.' That's what happened. He had Draymond Green on him and we kind of like those odds."

-- Nuggets forward Corey Brewer

THE STAT: Curry missed his first nine shots, including his first five from 3-point range, but he found his stroke after that. After the opening drought he was 7-for-11 from the field and 4-for-5 from long range.

QUOTABLE II: "I had good looks. I might have forced one shot when I rushed it but for the most part I felt good about every shot I took."

-- Curry

TURNING POINT: With David Lee hurt, Green, a rookie, was pressed into action and he was on an island guarding Miller on the last possession. Miller put a couple of moves on Green to get by him and then hit the underhand layup to give the Nuggets the Game 1 victory.

QUOTABLE III: "A very crafty guy. I thought I was in front of him and he made one slithery move and just get a half a step on me and that's all he needed to finish the shot. Maybe a half a centimeter over he can't get around me. Got to give him credit, but I've got to do whatever I could do to come up with the stop."

-- Green

HOT: This is Miller's ninth trip to the postseason but he's never played in the second round. He looked like a hungry player in the fourth when his team needed him most. He was 11-for-16 from the field in a game in which his teammates struggled to score. He hit big shot after big shot in the second half and had 20 points in 15 second-half minutes.

QUOTABLE IV: "Never won a playoff series. I fell into some good playoff series where we had the series won and the tables turned. I played on some solid teams where I thought we could get out of the first round. But I think this is probably the best opportunity for this team to get out of the first round. Knowing the teams I've played on in the past, this is definitely a good opportunity to get out of the first round."

-- Miller

NOT: Both teams struggled from the field in the first half, but the Nuggets were suffering the most in the second quarter. They were 5-for-19 in the period and missed four free throws that would have made it a tie game at the half. The drought continued into the third quarter, and in one stretch Denver was 7-for-30 from the field in a span of 18 minutes.

INSIDE THE ARENA: Broncos All-Pro linebacker Von Miller was sitting courtside and was introduced to the crowd during the timeout before Miller's game-winning shot.

GOOD MOVE: Nuggets coach George Karl stuck with Miller down the stretch and kept rookie Evan Fournier on the bench. Fournier was solid in his first playoff game but Miller understands the intensity of the playoffs, and the strategy paid off.

BAD MOVE: Lee left the game early in the fourth with a right hip injury. He was hurt when JaVale McGee fouled him on a drive to the bucket. He made a free throw and then limped down the court.

QUOTABLE V: "It's unfortunate. He's certainly a highlighted guy for us, somebody we count on. At the same time we prepared all season long. We believe in our guys to the bottom."

-- Warriors coach Mark Jackson on Lee's injury

ROOKIE WATCH: Green played just 4:29, all in the fourth quarter, and all after Lee went down. He had a big putback that cut what was an eight-point deficit to 93-90 with 1:44 left, but he'll be remembered for trying to guard Miller at the end of the game.

NOTABLE: Thompson, 23, is the youngest Warriors player to score 22 or more points in a playoff game since Rick Barry had 44 on April 24, 1967, when he was 23. ... Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried was in uniform but did not play. He's still recovering from a sprained ankle suffered Sunday. ... Golden State forward Andris Biedrins also didn't play although he was available. He missed the last two regular season games with lower back tightness. ... Denver's five second-chance points were the lowest it had this season.

UP NEXT: Game 2, Tuesday @ Denver, Game 3, Friday @ Golden State, Game 4, Sunday, April 28 @ Golden State.