THE FACTS: Stephen Curry played through a sprained left ankle to score 29 points and dish out 11 assists, and the Golden State Warriors sweated out a nail-biting final minute to beat the Denver Nuggets 110-108 Friday night and take a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Denver, out of timeouts and unable to advance the ball after Harrison Barnes' free throw with 3.7 seconds remaining, nevertheless almost stole the game when Andre Iguodala's half-court shot at the final buzzer caromed off the rim.
Jarrett Jack had 23 points, seven assists and five rebounds in his second straight start as the Warriors continued their three-guard lineup in the absence of injured power forward David Lee.
Ty Lawson had a game-high 35 points and 10 assists, but couldn't get a shot off with the Nuggets trailing by just one point in the final 10 seconds.
QUOTABLE: "What we went through last year, what we went through during the course of this year, has put us in a position to finish out ballgames. There was a point in time where, if you did not score on the last possession, you turn it over on a five-second violation, you panic. We got into the huddle and said, 'This is how we win ballgames, on the defensive end. Let's just go get a stop.'"
-- Warriors coach Mark Jackson
THE STAT: The Warriors held the Nuggets to just 42 points in the second half, on 39.0 percent shooting. That included a 15-point swing in the third quarter to wipe out a 66-54 halftime deficit.
TURNING POINT: The Nuggets used a 6-1 run in the final two minutes to get within one point with 9.4 seconds remaining and, after forcing Jack into a five-second call, had a chance to take the lead. But Lawson was doubled off the inbounds pass by Klay Thompson and Festus Ezeli and he couldn't turn the corner, eventually losing the ball out of bounds at the 5.3-second mark.
QUOTABLE II: "I'd like to see what the video says. Seems like he got mauled. . . . They put two [defenders] on Ty, surprised Ty a little bit. I thought we had cutters coming and somehow he decided to dribble out of bounds, I guess. I have no idea."
-- Nuggets coach George Karl
HOT: The status of Curry, who sprained his "good" left ankle in Game 2, was kept under wraps until shortly before game time. He started somewhat slowly as the Warriors adjusted to Denver's trapping defense, but dropped nine points in the final six minutes of the first quarter to get on track. Every time the Warriors tried to take Curry out for a rest, bad things transpired; Curry's plus-13 rating was the highest on the night, and that was not a fluke.
NOT: After watching Thompson score a combined 43 points in the first two games of this series, Karl made the conscious decision to take him out of Game 3 by using Iguodala on him almost exclusively. It worked, from that standpoint; Thompson was muzzled to the tune of six points on 3-for-10 shooting, but it opened things up for Curry to take command.
GOOD MOVE: The Nuggets responded to Golden State's small-ball attack by picking up their pressure at halfcourt and trapping both Curry and Jack at every available opportunity. The results were immediate and impressive: Denver, which had a combined 30 points off turnovers through the first two games of this series, had 20 on Friday -- at halftime.
BETTER MOVE: The Warriors clearly learned their lesson at intermission, forcing the ball into the middle of the floor early in possessions and keeping their spacing the limit the Nuggets to 10 points off turnovers in the second half.
BAD MOVE: Nuggets forward Anthony Randolph, a former first-round bust with the Warriors, played less than a minute through the first three quarters, yet he started off the final period with back-to-back baskets to put Denver ahead 88-87. Karl should have cashed out then; in the following 103 seconds, Randolph committed an ill-advised goaltend on a shot from Barnes, got spun like a top on Carl Landry's baseline floater and finally was whistled for an off-ball foul before Wilson Chandler could replace him.
ROOKIE WATCH: Barnes made his second straight start as an emergency power forward, and he once again looked like he'd been doing it all year long. Barnes finished with 19 points and seven rebounds, closing with five and three in the fourth quarter to help Golden State get over the finish line.
INSIDE THE ARENA: Former Warriors star Mitch Richmond was caught off guard when the arena's in-house feed spotlighted him during a first-quarter timeout. Richmond was so engrossed in using his smartphone that the person sitting next to him had to point out his face on the scoreboard TV -- at which point the six-time All-Star looked up with a smile.
NOTABLE: The sellout crowd was so loud that it threw both teams off kilter. The Nuggets' guards slammed repeatedly into picks, while Jack and Curry admitted that the Warriors' communication was made more difficult as well. . . . For a second straight game, Landry was announced in the Warriors' starting lineup, but never bothered to take his sweats off, knowing that Jack would be on the floor for the opening tap. Landry did finish with 19 point and five rebounds. . . . Nuggets guard Corey Brewer had 12 points in the second quarter but just four more the rest of the way. . . . Kenneth Faried stepped into the starting lineup at center, replacing Kosta Koufos, and tallied 15 points with seven boards.
UP NEXT: Game 4, Sunday @ Golden State; Game 5, Tuesday @ Denver; Game 6, Thursday @ Golden State.