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Lawson scores 35 but Nuggets fall in Game 3

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted April 27 2013 02:15

OAKLAND, Calif. – The pregame message for the Denver Nuggets was fairly straightforward.

Hit first, hit back, hit last.

They hit first, attacking defensively and taking the Golden State Warriors out of their comfort zone.

They hit back when the Warriors made a second-half run that ignited a crowd witnessing playoff basketball in Oakland for the first time in six years.

The Nuggets weren’t quite able to hit last, falling to Golden State 110-108 when Andre Iguodala’s half-court heave bounced off the front of the rim as time expired in Game 3 of their Western Conference playoff series Friday night.

The Warriors grabbed a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series, with Game 4 set for Sunday at Oracle Arena.

“We’re ready for war, man,” Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson said. “This place is crazy with their fans. They’re going go be ready to try to go up 3-1 on us next game. We’re ready for war – at least I know I am. Next game’s a big game and everybody has to be ready.”

After a lackluster performance in Game 2, the Nuggets were aggressive from the opening tip, trapping Golden State guards Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack early and often.

The strategy helped force 14 first-half turnovers that led to 20 points as the Nuggets took a 12-point lead into the half.

The Warriors, bolstered by their high-decibel fans, stormed back after the break, setting the stage for a thrilling fourth quarter in which neither team led by more than six points.

“I told the team after the game that the process of the NBA playoffs is to get better. We got better tonight,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “We didn’t win, but there’s a process going on and it’s just two wins. They’re barely halfway there. I think it’s going to be fun Sunday. I think tonight’s game was a great game to be a part of.”

Trailing 108-102 late in the fourth quarter, the Nuggets pulled within three on Lawson’s three-point play with 1:33 remaining. They got three consecutive defensive stops, but failed to capitalize as Lawson missed two jumpers and Iguodala turned the ball over trying to lob a pass to Kenneth Faried.

After Jack split a pair of free throws with 16.5 seconds left, Wilson Chandler made it a one-point game with a corner 3, and the Nuggets got the ball back with 9.4 seconds to go when Jack was called for a 5-second violation on an inbounds play.

Denver put the ball in Lawson’s hands on the ensuing possession, but he lost it out of bounds when he appeared to be bumped by Festus Ezeli while driving toward the right baseline.

“The play was for me to come off the screen-and-roll with Will,” Lawson said. “They ended up trapping. I didn’t see anybody behind me. I just lost the ball. Can’t put it on the refs.”

Harrison Barnes split a pair of free throws with 3.7 seconds to go, but Denver was out of timeouts and had to settle for Iguodala’s desperation shot at the buzzer.

“I didn’t think it was going in, but it was closer than I thought,” Iguodala said. “Hopefully we can learn from it. It’s something that’s been our Achilles’ heel: Can we learn from our mistakes as a young basketball team? We have to get it back Sunday.”

If they can replicate their first-half performance from Game 3, the Nuggets have a good chance to can reclaim home-court advantage before the series returns to Denver.

Seeking better defensive matchups, Karl started Faried in place of center Kosta Koufos and sent defenders at Curry and Jack as soon as they crossed midcourt.

The Warriors found more room to operation after halftime, going on a 16-2 run that erased a 13-point third-quarter deficit, but Lawson kept the Nuggets close by continually attacking the paint. Lawson finished with a career playoff-high 35 points, while four other Nuggets scored in double-figures.

Denver still struggled on the glass as the Warriors won the rebounding battle for the third straight game. The Nuggets, however, forced 23 turnovers that led to 30 points, matching their total from the first two games combined.

“I think we set the tone early,” Denver point guard Andre Miller said. “We played a little bit tougher.

“We just have to keep grinding, be a little tougher on the boards and tougher when adversity hits. We learned some things. We know what it’ll take to win that next game. We just have to make it happen.”

STAR OF THE GAME

Ty Lawson

Points 35 11-22 FG, 12-12 FT
Rebounds 3, 1 OFF 2 DEF
Assists 10/td>
Steals 2
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Ty Lawson 35
Rebounds Andrew Bogut, Wilson Chandler 9
Assists Stephen Curry 11
Steals Six players with 2
Blocks Festus Ezeli 3
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson on the team's mindset heading into Game 4 Sunday in Oakland

"We’re ready for war, man. This place is crazy with their fans. They’re going go be ready to try to go up 3-1 on us next game. We’re ready for war, at least I know I am. Next game’s a big game and everybody has to be ready."

KEY MOMENT

Warriors erase 13-point deficit with big run in third quarter

After Ty Lawson hit a 3-pointer with 8:51 left in the third quarter, the Warriors needed less than four minutes to storm back into the lead. Stephen Curry had seven points during the 16-2 run as the Oracle Arena crowd came back to life.
VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On taking positives from a loss:
“There’s a lot of good tonight. I told the team after the game that the process of the NBA Playoffs is to get better. We got better tonight. We didn’t win tonight but there’s a process going on and it’s just two wins. They’re barely half way there. I think it’s going to be fun Sunday. I think tonight’s game was a great game to be a part of.”

On the play of his big men:
“Basically I’m trying to keep my bigs rested and athletic. I’m not going to play them long minutes. They know what they want from us. The only thing I was disappointed in our big guys probably, tonight, more than anything, is rebounding. We didn’t rebound the ball on a lot of shots. Kosta (Koufos) and I think JaVale (McGee) didn’t get a defensive rebound all night, and rebounding is something they’ve (Warriors) had consistent success with getting 15 -20 points on the offensive glass in all three games.”

On guard play
“Ty was spectacular. Ty was great. Andre was great in Game 1; tonight they put the Green kid (Draymond Green) on him a lot. A lot of his minutes I think Green was covering him and the kid is pretty fatiguing. I trust Andre (Miller) and in the second quarter when the game started going our way a lot, Andre was really good with passing the ball and pushing the ball.
I think our point guard play was pretty good tonight. Andre doesn’t have a great game, Ty has a special game, and we come up a little short.”

On defense: “If they give us the opportunity to; in the second half they played the ball in the middle of the court more often which is a little bit harder to get to, but we’ll have to observe what the video says. In the second half it was an offensive game, and I don’t think we can win here without some defense in the game. That was the thought after giving 131 points and it’s still the thought right now giving up 110 points.
We need to figure out how to take the layup out and how to cover the ball better, and try to create some offense with our defense.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On difference between first half and second half:
“First half, we were getting steals. (Stephen) Curry wasn’t as comfortable as he wanted to be. That’s the main thing, our aggressiveness. We let up a little bit and our lead went from 12 to 2 within 3 or 4 minutes.”

On team's mindset being down 2-1:
“We’re ready for war, man. This place is crazy with their fans. They’re going go be ready to try to go up 3-1 on us next game. We’re ready for war, at least I know I am. Next game’s a big game and everybody has to be ready.”

On his turnover in the game's final seconds:
“The play was for me to come off the screen and roll with Will (Wilson Chandler). They ended up trapping. I didn’t see anybody behind me. I just lost the ball. Can’t put it on the refs.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried

On difference between first half and second half:
“We were hot, we were feeling it, but we had to stay aggressive and we stopped being as aggressive with the traps. We knocked the ball out of (Stephen) Curry’s hands in the first half. We did a phenomenal job, but then we kind of fell apart in that aspect. They got going in transition and when they start doing that, it’s hard to beat them.”

On teammate Ty Lawson
“He was incredible, but that’s what we come to expect from Ty. It’s not once in a blue moon type of thing. Coach has given him the right to be aggressive. I’m going to try to help him by setting screens so he can be as explosive as he was tonight.”

On whether the Nuggets feel they let one get away
"It’s playoff basketball. You have to keep fighting. They kept fighting and their crowd really got into it and got behind them. We have to neutralize their crowd early."

Warriors coach Mark Jackson

On the Oracle Arena crowd:
“The crowd was off the chart. There’s nothing like something being as good as advertised. They were loud. They were consistent and we fed off of them even when we didn’t match their intensity in the first half. The great thing about it is that when you are a part of an environment like this, you want more. It was a great job by the fans and I’m awfully proud of our guys.”

On his team getting their edge back:
“We never lost it. We struggled, we’re a young basketball team and we certainly struggled. We lost five or six in a row. One thing I did after losing six in a row is I had my video guys take each player and ask them about making the playoffs and being successful. Because it’s easier to answer that question after winning six or seven in a row, but not when you’re facing adversity. We struggled at times, but we’re a team that works extremely hard, we’re tied together, we compete, and we’re a defensive minded team. When you make defense your primary focus, you’re going to be in ball games. That’s what happened, especially in that second half which was a thing of beauty. We gave up 42 second half points because we locked in and we competed.”

On being a young team:
“We are a young basketball team. This is a new experience for us and we’re going to make mistakes during the process. Turnovers, five second violations, carelessness, bad shots, what we went through last year and during the course of this year has put us in position to finish ball games. There was a point in time where if we did not score on the last possession or turn the ball over on a five second violation, where we would panic. We got into the huddle we said ‘this is how we win ball games, on the defensive end. Let’s go get a stop.’ I’m so proud of my guys because at that time, I’ve been a part of teams that are pointing the finger and panicking, wondering who made the mistake. My guys, without saying a word, said ‘Let’s get a stop.’ It was a big time win for us.”

On Draymond Green:
“I’m so glad for him because people probably thought I was crazy for putting him in down the stretch in Game 1 to guard Andre Miller. Andre Miller is a big time player and made a big time play. Like I said after that game, Draymond Green is a competitor. We’re going to trust him. He has an incredible IQ for the game of basketball. He battles, he competes and I thought he gave us great energy, he rebounded and defended. He’s the type of guy whose energy and effort is contagious and he gave us a spark.”

Warriors guard Stephen Curry

On the playoff crowd being a factor:
“A little on defense a couple of times when we were trying to brace for a pick-and-roll. Our bigs do a good job of being vocal and loud but after an offensive basket or something that might happen to get the crowd going it was tough to hear. We had some miscommunications at times but we got better as the game went on adjusting to the atmosphere and I think it showed in the second half once we started to pick up defensively.”

On the status of his ankle:
“It feels good. I’m just thankful to be able to get through the game without having any incidents so I’ll continue my treatment and hopefully it will feel even better come Sunday.”

On being able to make adjustments:
“After three games you’ve got a good feeling of what adjustments or what they might throw at you. We’ve seen a lot of different looks from trapping us when we come to half court to switching pick-and-rolls, to almost every look on defense you can think of. We’ve just got to make the right plays and not turn the ball over is the best thing for us to do to try to continue this lead in the series. They’re a great fast break team. If you give them fast break baskets they show you how lethal they can be.”

On skipping practices:
“We’ll see how I feel tomorrow. It might be the case. I’ve done that in the past where you have a game every other day and you stay locked in to adjustments. Mentally you do what you have to do to rest your body. You feel 100 percent for the next game but it all depends on how I feel tomorrow and we’ll make that decision.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Stephen Curry tallied 29 points and 11 assists, the first Warrior with consecutive games of at least 20 points and 10 assists in the playoffs since Tim Hardaway (May 8-10, 1991)… Curry was a perfect 9-of-9 from the line.

• Ty Lawson tallied playoff career-highs of 35 points and 10 assists, hitting all 12 of his free throws.

• Carl Landry led all bench scorers with 19 points.

• Draymond Green hit a three-pointer tonight after hitting one in Game 2, the first time he’s hit a three in consecutive games since January 29-31… Green finished with five points and five rebounds before fouling out.

• Making his second career playoff start, Jarrett Jack tallied a second-straight 20-point effort (23 points) for the first time in his career to go with seven assists, hitting 10-of-14 from the field.

• Harrison Barnes tallied 19 points and seven rebounds.

TEAM

• The Warriors earned a 2-1 series lead over the Nuggets, their first series lead since defeating the Dallas Mavericks 4-2 in the First Round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs… The Warriors and Nuggets meet again for Game 4 of the best-of-seven series at Oracle Arena on Sunday.

• The Warriors improved to 23-21 all-time in Game 3, winning their last three Game 3s.

• By shooting 61.1 percent in the first quarter, the Warriors made it four-straight quarters shooting better than 60 percent from the field.

• Denver scored 30 points on 23 Warriors turnovers in a game that saw 41 total miscues.

• Golden State improved to 62-39 all-time at home in the postseason.

• The game saw 16 lead changes and nine ties.

• The Warriors have shot 50 percent from the field in consecutive playoff games for the first time since May 1-4, 1994.

• Golden State outrebounded Denver for a third-straight game, 42-34.

• Denver used a 34-22 second quarter to lead by as many as 13, but the Warriors answered with a 33-18 third quarter to turn a 12-point halftime deficit into a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

• The Warriors sold out their 33rd consecutive game (35th this season), the team’s longest sellout streak since the renovation of Oracle Arena increased the building’s capacity from 15,025 to 19,596… Golden State sold out 32 of its 41 regular season home games this season and averaged 19,374 fans, the second best attendance mark in franchise history (behind only 2007-08).