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Series back within reach for Nuggets after Game 5 win

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted May 1, 2013 00:27

Bloody lips, flagrant fouls, accusations of dirty play.

In more ways than one, the first-round playoff series between the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors just became a lot more interesting.

With their season on the line, the Nuggets took the fight to the Warriors, building a big lead and then holding on for a 107-100 victory in Game 5 at Pepsi Center on Tuesday night.

Andre Iguodala made a run at a triple-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as the Nuggets pulled to 3-2 in the series and forced Game 6 in Oakland on Thursday night.

It promises to be another physical, intense matchup after Golden State coach Mark Jackson accused Denver of cheap shots, despite the fact that the Warriors were whistled for two flagrant fouls in Game 5.

“When I go through the lane, I’m getting hit two, three four times,” Denver point guard Ty Lawson said. “I’m not complaining. I’m not calling them dirty. It’s the game of basketball. You’ve got to man-up.”

Jackson, who repeatedly has called the Warriors a “no excuses basketball team,” claimed the Nuggets were targeting Golden State point guard Stephen Curry, who has been nursing a sprained left ankle.

“They tried to send hit men on Steph, but I give them credit,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t cocky basketball; they outplayed us. It wasn’t magic; they outplayed us.

Asked to elaborate, Jackson said: “There were some dirty plays early. It’s playoff basketball; it’s all right. We own it. Make no mistake about it: We went up 3-1 playing hard, physical and clean basketball, not trying to hurt anybody.”

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried respectfully disagreed after taking two big hits in Game 5.

Andrew Bogut was called for a flagrant foul after a two-hand shove near the neck that sent Faried to the floor early in the second quarter. Draymond Green received a flagrant foul 60 seconds into the fourth quarter when he lowered his shoulder into Faried while going for a rebound.

“They play dirty every night and they target me,” Faried said. “Every rebound, they try to hit me and try to hurt me. It’s basketball.”

Green later made contact with Nuggets point guard Andre Miller, but no foul was called despite Miller’s bleeding lower lip.

“I think both teams are finesse teams,” Miller said, “but in order to establish the paint and control what’s going on out there, you have to step out of character and get physical.”

After falling behind 3-1 in the series, the Nuggets didn’t talk about taking cheap shots or targeting Curry’s sore ankle. They simply talked about taking the Warriors out of their comfort zone.

It started with a lineup change as Denver coach George Karl went big against Golden State’s smaller starting five, replacing rookie guard Evan Fournier with centerJaVale McGee.

That allowed Iguodala to move to shooting guard and Wilson Chandler to occupy the small forward spot against smaller Golden State swingman Harrison Barnes.

The adjustments paid dividends as McGee was active at both ends of the court. He scored five points, grabbed four rebounds and blocked three shots in the game’s first 8 minutes to help Denver jump out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter.

“I just had to bring energy. I feel like I did that at the beginning of the game,” McGee said. “That was my role tonight.”

Faried, still dealing with his own sprained ankle, also made an impact with his effort.

Undeterred by the hits from Bogut and Green, he finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds and converted two lob passes for dunks as Golden State was making a comeback in the game’s final minutes.

“I am playing like myself,” Faried said. “I’m getting that bounce back in my step, that fun mentality of having fun and enjoying the game.”

Though the Nuggets were enjoying themselves after building a big lead, things started to get serious after Golden State used an 18-4 run to pull within five points with 5:09 remaining.

It was still a five-point game with less than 2 minutes to play, but Curry and Klay Thompson missed consecutive 3s, and Chandler knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Nuggets an eight-point cushion with 1:26 left.

Chandler finished with 19 points and a career playoff-high five 3-pointers, but he deflected the credit to teammates Faried and McGee for setting the tone.

“I think the bigs were the factor in the game,” Chandler said. “They played great. They gave us rebounding, they gave us blocked shots, they gave us toughness. They gave us everything.”

Most importantly, they gave Nuggets what they sorely need.

New life.

STAR OF THE GAME

Andre Iguodala

Points 25 10-17 FG, 2-2 FT
Rebounds 12, 3 OFF 9 DEF
Assists 7
Steals 2
Blocks 1
GAME LEADERS
Points Andre Iguodala 25
Rebounds Andre Iguodala 12
Assists Ty Lawson 10
Steals Corey Brewer 3
Blocks JaVale McGee 3
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Nuggets center JaVale McGee on Golden State coach Mark Jackson's accusation that Denver played dirty in Game 5.

"If we played dirty, they must've played unsanitary. The stuff they're doing is crazy."

KEY MOMENT

Wilson Chandler hits the game-clinching 3 in final minutes

After trailing by as many as 22, the Warriors had a chance to pull within two in the final two minutes but Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson missed consecutive 3s, and Wilson Chandler hit one at the other end to give Denver an eight-point lead with 1:26 remaining.
VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On Andre Iguodala’s effectiveness in tonight’s game:
“I thought we got him engaged with some and pick-and-roll coverage and his defense has always been first-class. We put him on [Jarrett] Jack because we thought he was playing as well as anyone on the [Warriors] team. I think Jack finished with a pretty good game. I thought we at least had control of [Stephen] Curry and Jack more so. I think his passing was really good for us; rebounding for the last few minutes of the game, he was the only guy who got really engaged with rebounding in the last few minutes and we need another one like that against them on Thursday.”

On whether adjustments made for Stephen Curry were the result of the Nuggets bigs or a team effort:
“I hope they understand that we can’t let [the Warriors] have open shots. I thought tonight we were conscious of staying up on the pick-and-rolls and we didn’t chase him, to jump him as often as we have in some of the other games. We just wanted to make sure that we were up and he couldn’t shoot the ball; we would rather have him attack us, he tried to a couple of times. He got some layups on us but right now, we think we have to be aggressive on him and probably play [Andre Iguodala] on [Jarrett] Jack.”

On the energy that Kenneth Faried brought to the court tonight:
“I liked both JaVale [McGee] and Kenneth in the first half; the energy of the rebounding, the bounce. We got back into having them get a lot of paint points. I thought they were both fantastic to start. Wilson [Chandler] got into the game with the 3-ball at the 3 position. Our starters were the key tonight.”

On starting JaVale McGee over Kosta Koufos:
“Basically, why we weren’t playing well in pounding penetration and rebounding the ball - we are number one in the league in points scored off of offensive rebounds which we weren’t getting that in prior games - is because we were giving up too many points in the paint. We are just going back to the normal rotation of the bigs; we haven’t played Kosta [Koufos] and JaVale [McGee] together a lot but the rotation of JaVale, Kosta and Kenneth [Faried] rotated the game from the start. [The Warriors] went small almost the whole second half so JaVale didn’t get a lot of minutes in the second half but I felt comfortable putting him in the game if we had to.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On being more physical than the Warriors:
“We have to match their physicality. The first couple of games [the Warriors] were checking us. Draymond Green and their bigs hit us when we came to the lane like we did to them tonight. We just have to even it out, even the score.”

On not taking foot off Warriors:
“We just can’t. I mean we were up 20 [points]. We just have to put our foot on their neck. Next game we have to do that. We can’t let it get down to nine [points], because with them, a nine point lead is like a three-point lead. They just can come down and hit 3s and get easy buckets. We just have to be more mature and get them out of the game early.”

On being a better team when game is more physical:
“I think so when we are hitting guys and not getting hit. Like I said, the first couple of games we were getting hit and not responding. We would look at the refs, and sometimes you have to take the game into your own hands and bump them a little.”

On not celebrating the win:
“We didn’t celebrate because we were up 20 [points] and we let the lead get down to four or five [points]. It is just disappointing at this stage in the season and we are still waiting to close games in the last couple of seconds when we could do it a lot earlier.”

Nuggets swingman Andre Iguodala

On guarding Jarrett Jack:
“I think he is just trying to take some steam off their guy, their wildcard. He’s played really well throughout the series. He played a good game tonight; I am just trying to put a little pressure on him, give him a different look. He has a real shimmy-shake in his game and it’s a little harder for him to shoot over me, a longer hand, so when I am guarding him, he has to shoot over a longer hand. I gave him a different look; I thought Ty [Lawson] did a good job tonight trying to keep [Stephen Curry] out of his rhythm so they have four guys who really get out there and score for [the Warriors].”

On if he thought the Nuggets defense was dirty:
“No, not really. I think I took the hardest hit of the series. It was Game 1 or 2, [Andrew] Bogut leaned into me, full-court screen and I didn’t remember what happened for the rest of the game. I think they kind of brought the physicality to the series. We have stopped being the receivers and started to hit back a little bit. But as far as anyone trying to cheap shot, I don’t condone that myself. It’s not my game.”

On Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried:
“When Wilson has had good games for us, we’ve pretty much got a 90 percent winning rate when he shoots the ball well. He was great for us tonight as far as attacking the basket; he’s a mismatch. It’s tough to guard him when he’s at the 4 [position] with a big guy. But when he has smaller defenders, he is able to put them on the block. Kenneth [Faried] just brings great energy to our team. He played physical tonight and we just want to continue to help him grow as he continues to learn the game. He is going to continue to be a special player.”

Warriors coach Mark Jackson

On allowing Denver to get points in the paint:
“They were the more physical team. They were the aggressor. They hurt us in the first half, scoring the basketball, points in the paint, they made us pay for our turnovers. They tried to send hit men on Steph [Curry] but I give them credit. It wasn’t cocky basketball; they outplayed us. It wasn’t magic; they outplayed us.”

On Denver playing their bigs versus trying to match the Warriors small lineup:
“We lost the game because they scored in the paint. We turned the basketball over and they got it going in transition and we made mistakes. No matter who is on the floor, if we play our brand of basketball, we will be just fine. We put together a run with small guys on the floor so it has nothing to do with size. We have to stay true to who we are.”

On his ‘hit men’ comment:
“There were some dirty plays early. It’s playoff basketball; it’s all right. Make no mistake about it: we went up 3-1 playing hard, physical and clean basketball, not trying to hurt anybody.”

On the energy that Kenneth Faried brought the Nuggets:
“I didn’t pay attention to whether their starting lineup was going to be who I expected. [Kenneth] played well. He did what he does, high energy. He impacted the game, he did a good job. He set some good screens, some good illegal ones too. He did his job. I’ve played with guys like that; you are paid to do that. Dale Davis, Anthony Davis, Charles Oakley. You are paid to do it so I give him credit. As an opposing coach, I see it and I am trying to protect my guys.”

On specific plays where he thought the Nuggets were trying to hurt Stephen Curry:
“I am not going to get into specifics. You can take a look at the game. The screen on Curry by the foul line is a shot at his ankle, clearly. It can’t be debated. I have inside information that some people don’t like that brand of basketball and they clearly didn’t co-sign it so they wanted to let me know that they had no part in what was taking place. Let the best team win and let everybody, with the exception of someone going down with a freak injury, let everybody leave healthy. That’s not good basketball.”

Warriors guard Jarrett Jack

On if Denver’s seemed to play dirty defense:
“It was good defense and we welcome good defense. It felt like good defense; we liked it. There is nothing else further to it. We’re a close-knit bunch, a battle-tested bunch; nothing can get us out of our character. I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”

On the offensive struggle:
“We did the one thing that we know really allows them to get into their flow and that’s turn the basketball over. They do a great job with those turnovers in transition and converting them to baskets. That was mostly the thing that got us back on our heels in the first half and allowed them to get that big lead. We fought back but we still dug ourselves too big of a hole to come back from that deficit.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Ty Lawson scored 19 points and handed out 10 assists for his third career playoff double-double (all in this series) … It is the third-straight game that he has had at least 19 points and six assists … He becomes the first Nugget to reach those numbers in three consecutive playoff games since Alex English in 1986 … Additionally, in those three games the point guard is averaging 23.3 points and 8.7 assists.

• Andre Iguodala led all scorers with 25 points to go with 12 rebounds and seven assists for his fifth career playoff double-double (first with Denver) … It is the first time in his career (regular season or post season) that he has reached those numbers in the same game.

• Iguodala becomes just the second Nugget since 1986 to hit those numbers in a playoff game (only other was Fat Lever on 4/28/90 at SAS) … He is also the first Nugget to post 25+ points and 12+ rebounds in a playoff win since LaPhonso Ellis on 5/5/94 vs. SEA.

• Additionally, the 12 rebounds tie a playoff career high for Iguodala … In the last two games, he is averaging 22.0 points and 10.0 rebounds … It is also Iguodala’s fifth career playoff game with three-or-more three-point makes.

• Kenneth Faried recorded 13 points and 10 rebounds en route to his fourth career playoff double-double … When recording a double-double at the Pepsi Center the Nuggets are 29-1 in Faried’s career (includes playoffs and regular season).

• Wilson Chandler scored 19 points including shooting 5-of-11 from beyond the arc … The five three-point makes are a new playoff career high for Chandler, besting his previous mark of two (4/26/13 @ GSW) … During the regular season, Chandler hit five-or-more three’s on two separate occasions.

• JaVale McGee started his first career playoff game tonight and posted 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks … It is only the third time in his career he has had 10+ points and eight-plus rebounds in a playoff game.

• Harrison Barnes led the Warriors in scoring with 23 points (5-of-10 3FG) and nine rebounds … It is the first time he has reached those numbers in the same playoff game … The five three-point makes tie a career high that he set in the regular season on 1/13/13 @ DEN … Additionally, the 10 three-point attempts are a new career-high (previous – 6 on 11/19/12 @ DAL).

• Jarrett Jack registered 20 points, six rebounds and five assists … It is the fourth straight game that he has scored 20+ points (averaging 22.5 points in those four games).

TEAM

• The Nuggets defeated Golden State 107-100 and trail the best of seven series 3-2 … Denver has found themselves down 3-2 on nine occasions and have come back to win Game 6 twice (2011-12 First Round vs. LAL and 1994 West Semis vs. UTA) … They have not come back to win the series when down 3-2.

• Denver earned a wire-to-wire victory tonight, just the second time this season they have accomplished this (did in season finale vs. PHX on 4/17) … It is their first wire-to-wire postseason win since Game 6 vs. LAL on 5/10/12.

• Andre Iguodala, Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried all posted double-doubles tonight … It is just the fifth time in Nuggets’ postseason history that three players have posted a double-double in the same game and the first since Alex English, Calvin Natt and Fat Lever did so on 5/2/85 vs. UTA.

• All five Nugget starters scored in double-figures for just the second time in a playoff game since 1995 (also did on 5/29/09 vs. LAL and the previous time before that was 5/14/94 vs. UTA) … Denver was 5-0 during the regular season when accomplishing this.

• The Nuggets registered 12 steals tonight, their most in a playoff game since they had 12 in Game 4 at UTA on 4/25/10 … The Nuggets were 32-7 during the regular season when recording 10+ steals.

• Denver scored 50 points in the paint tonight after scoring just 36 in Game 4 on 4/28 … They have scored 50+ in four of the five games this series.