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Warriors shoot their way back into series against Nuggets

By Aaron J. Lopez, Nuggets.com

Posted April 24 2013 02:17

The snow gave way to sun by midday in Denver on Tuesday. The Golden State Warriors then brought rain into the forecast.

A downright downpour.

Playing without All-Star power forward David Lee, the Warriors went small and turned their shooters loose in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets.

The result was a deluge of 3s from Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes as Golden State hit 14 shots from long range en route to a 131-117 victory over the Nuggets at Pepsi Center.

The victory evened the best-of-7 series 1-1, with Game 3 set for Friday night in Oakland.

“If we try to outshoot this team, we’re just crazy,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “They’re probably the best shooting team in the NBA, maybe the best shooting team I’ve seen in the league for a long time.”

Curry finished with 30 points on 13-of-23 shooting, including 4-of-10 from beyond the arc. Thompson hit five 3s and scored with 21 points as the Warriors became the first visiting team to beat Denver since Jan. 18.

The Nuggets won their final 23 home games of the regular season and edged Golden State 97-95 in the series opener.

The Warriors, however, were undaunted by the loss of Lee (torn hip flexor) and Denver’s home dominance. They hit 11 of 19 shots in the first quarter – and only proceeded to get hotter from there.

Curry and Jarrett Jack (26 points, seven assists) continually broke down Denver’s pick-and-roll defense by converting shots of their own or finding Thompson and Barnes (24 points) on the perimeter.

Golden State scored 35 points in each of the final three quarters and finished 51-of-79 from the field. The .646 shooting was the highest by any team in a playoff game since Utah shot .651 against Phoenix on April 25, 1991.

“We’re a very good shooting basketball team,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We've got guys that can knock down shots. You talk about Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, in my opinion, they're the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game.”

By consistently knocking down jumpers, the Warriors were able to neutralize Denver’s running game. The Nuggets were outscored 14-8 in transition and outrebounded 36-26.

“They had more intensity, and it was more urgent for them,” Denver point guard Ty Lawson said. “It was probably like a must-win for them, and for us, it was like a walk in the park. We just weren’t paying attention.”

The Warriors certainly have Denver’s attention as the series shifts to Oakland .

The Nuggets split two games at Oracle Arena during the regular season and need to win at least one in the Bay Area to regain home-court advantage in the series.

“We’ve got a young team, so we have to make sure we understand how (to respond) if you lose one game when everyone is expecting you to win both,” Denver swingman Andre Iguodala said. “They did what they had to do; they came in here and won one game. It’s our turn to go out there and try to do the same thing; if not get two.”

With two days to prepare, the Nuggets will have to adapt to Golden State’s small lineup that featured Curry, Thompson, Jack and Barnes. Quick, athletic and lethal from long range, the Warriors, spaced the floor, attacked the middle and forced the issue from the opening tip until the closing minutes.

Karl countered at halftime by starting Andre Miller alongside Lawson, but the Nuggets trailed by double digits for the majority of the second half.

“It’s a chess match throughout the series,” Iguodala said. “You’re going to make some adjustments to figure out the mistakes you made until you get them right.

“I think we have to keep our mindset on going (to Oakland) and trying to do the same thing to get a win. We’ve got a young team, so our confidence can waiver a little bit. We’ve got to stay confident.”

After winning the series opener, the Nuggets had reason to be confident in Game 2. While Lee was out for Golden State, Kenneth Faried made his 2013 playoff debut for Denver after sitting out with a sprained left ankle.

Faried admitted to being rusty after finishing with four points and two rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench.

“After not playing for a while, I didn’t expect the speed of the game,” he said. “You can’t prepare for that in practice. I always come out and try to be a spark, a guy that gets this team going and ready, but tonight I couldn’t.”

Faried reported no setbacks with his ankle and Karl could put him back in the starting lineup for Game 3. At this point, all options will be considered.

“We will evaluate everything and we will try to make the adjustments to put the best team out there for more minutes than we did tonight,” Karl said.

“I’m not saying we didn’t play hard. We just didn’t play hard enough. They were more physical than we were. Their big guys hit us more than we banged them. The momentum and pendulum of urgency and desperation comes on our side in Golden State.”

STAR OF THE GAME

Stephen Curry

Points 30 13-23 FG, 4-10 3FG
Rebounds 5, 0 OFF 5 DEF
Assists 13/td>
Steals 3
Blocks 0
GAME LEADERS
Points Stephen Curry 30
Rebounds Andrew Bogut 8
Assists Stephen Curry 13
Steals Stephen Curry 3
Blocks Five players with 1
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT

Warriors coach Mark Jackson on starting Jarrett Jack in a three-guard lineup and shifting small forward Harrinson Barnes to power forward

"I came to my coaches and said, ‘Am I crazy to start Harrison at the 4? Somebody talk me out of it.’ And they all just smiled and co-signed it and I knew it was the right thing."

KEY MOMENT

Curry and Thompson connect on -back-to-back 3s to stop Denver rally

After trailing by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, the Nuggets went on a 13-3 run to cut the deficit to seven. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson responded with consecutive 3s 25 seconds apart to push the advantage back to 13.
VIDEO RECAP

Postgame Quotes

Nuggets coach George Karl

On Denver’s defensive performance:
“We didn’t do much of anything very well; pick-and-roll moves, giving up in the paint, the 3-ball, transition. We let the shooters get into the game. The frustration of covering the shooters, making shots, broke down our team concept some. Our offensive shot selection got broken down and that gave them the fast break a lot of times. I don’t think I have ever coached a game where a team had three 35-point quarters, maybe in my entire career, I don’t think I remember that. The process has just begun; it’s an interesting and difficult time to figure out what went wrong but I am sure the video will teach us some stuff. We have beaten [the Warriors] four out of six games. They say that a series doesn’t begin until someone comes in and wins on the other team’s court and in a lot of ways the process has begun.”

On Stephen Curry’s effectiveness with the shot tonight:
“They were setting the screen and changing the angle on the screen and our big guy was getting caught behind it a lot on the wrong side. Game 1, we kind of directed them better, kept them where we wanted them to be and tonight, we didn’t direct them at all. The ball was free and loose on almost every possession and I don’t think they had one guy that didn’t shoot the ball well. They got the kid off the bench, [Draymond Green], he made a three. Richard [Jefferson] makes a three. Everybody that got loose made the shot.”

On the Warrior’s three-guard lineup:
“I think it was effective. Their guards got into the game; that kid, [Harrison] Barnes had an incredible game. [Stephen] Curry had a great game too. There wasn’t one of their perimeter guys that had a bad game. Barnes had a career game. Jarrett Jack had a game of contribution and [Klay] Thompson and Curry did their job first-class. We didn’t disrupt anything; did it throw us off? We play small as much as any team. The first quarter, I think we had some control of what was going on; I think we knew what was going on. I don’t know what the film will show. We adjusted in the second half starting Andre Miller, and they made the first three shots of the quarter and took it down the court. Take whatever it was, a seven-point lead, an eight-point lead, and take it to 12, 13 and we fight the whole game to get it under 10.”

Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson

On biggest problem for Denver tonight:
“The pick-and-roll defense. The game plan tonight was to keep the ball out of Stephen Curry’s hands, but he came off and had open looks and then he started finding people. After that, we started scrambling, and we can’t play like that.”

On Golden State’s shooting performance:
“Man, they were just knocking it down. I don’t know what they shot from three, but it had to have been something crazy. [Golden State] had to have shot well over 50 percent I’m guessing, but I haven’t had a chance to see yet.”

On lack of urgency from Denver tonight:
“I think so. They had more intensity, and it was more urgent for [Golden State]. It was probably like a must-win for them, and for us, it was like a walk in the park. We just were not paying attention.”

On being able to correct mistakes:
“I think so. Everybody has to focus. The game plan was simple, we just needed to keep the ball out of [Stephen Curry]’s hands and we just could not follow that. He came off ball-screens, down-screens, and we just need to be more focused.”

Nuggets swingman Andre Iguodala

On defensive struggles:
“I think they just did a really good job of moving the ball around and making adjustments. They found some holes in transition; they did a really good job of getting out of transition and scoring, too.”

On adjustments moving forward:
“Simple fundamental basketball will clear a lot of the mistakes up.”

Offensive changes throughout the game:
“We have so many guys who are attacking; we have to stick with something that’s working and continue to go with it. They went a zone in the second half that kind of threw us out of our rhythm a little bit. It kind of takes away from one guy being able to attack.”

On what needs to be done before the next game:
“It’s a chess match throughout the series; you’re going to make some adjustments to figure out the mistakes you made until you get them right. I think we have to keep our mindset on going up there [Oakland] and trying to do the same thing to get a win; which is important for us. We’ve got a young team so our confidence can waiver a little bit; so we’ve got to stay confident.”

On if the loss is embarrassing:
“A loss is a loss. You have these types of games throughout the series; hopefully this is the last one we have. They were knocking down some shots from everywhere. They made some tough shots. A few things we struggled with all year; they kind of kept attacking it tonight, especially our pick-and-roll defense. Russell Westbrook has had some pretty good games against for a quarter or two, getting 20 [points] in a quarter, and tonight they did that in the third quarter and fourth with Steph [Curry] making shots.”

On the concern in the locker room after the loss:
“We’ll see tomorrow. We should have a solid practice, and be ready to go. Like I said, we’ve got a young team so we have to make sure we understand how if you lose one game when everyone is expecting you to win both. They did what they had to do; they came in here and won one game. It’s our turn to go out there and try to do the same; if not get two.”

Warriors coach Mark Jackson

On his decision to go with the 3-guard lineup:
“The initial reaction was to put Carl [Landry] in the lineup all day yesterday, I was by myself just thinking about matchups, thinking about adjustments and really, it hit me when [the reporters] asked me who was starting and I began to tease saying ‘Jarrett Jack at the power forward, I don’t know, it could be anybody,’ and all of the sudden, my mind started wandering. Yesterday I came to my coaches, I said, ‘Am I crazy to start Harrison [Barnes] at the four? Somebody talk me out of it.’ And they all just smiled and co-signed it and I knew it was the right thing. It doesn’t matter who starts; I have a tied together team that I am incredibly proud of. Harrison Barnes, for a rookie, hasn’t been getting the respect that he deserves. A rookie that starts for a number six seed all year long, defends and doesn’t kill you with numbers, but does everything the right way. It was just an incredible performance by the whole group.”

On Stephen Curry’s contributions tonight:
“He made shots. I thought in game one, he missed shots. It’s a make- or-miss league. I thought our big guys did a very good job of setting screens and creating opportunities for him and he was aggressive. The guy is a big time player and he put on a phenomenal performance tonight.”

On why they were so successful at keeping the Nuggets away from transition points:
“You’ve got to make a conscious effort to do that; that’s a heck of a basketball team that is extremely well-coached. You’ve got to make the conscious decision to get back in transition. They have hurt us in the past with bad shot selection, with turning the basketball over and they make you pay the price so we have to be disciplined. We’ve done a very good job of doing that. The series is far from over. We’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for them and they are more than capable of coming into Oracle and beating us. So we have to relax and then get back to work.”

Warriors forward Harrison Barnes

On the high-efficiency of the offense:
“We just tried to be aggressive. We just tried to feed off of each others energy. Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson] getting going early and me and [Jarrett] Jack chip in and help, we just kind of feed off of each other.”

On if the energy is contagious:
“No question. Steph and Klay do it every night, if we’re able to add and help them with that, we’re hard to beat.”

On starting at the power forward position:
“That was a game-time decision. That was my first time playing forward all season. Coach [Jackson] just told me to go out there and be aggressive, I’m obviously going to make some mistakes, just stick with it. That’s what I tried to do.”

On the high-efficiency of the offense:
“We just tried to be aggressive. We just tried to feed off of each others energy. Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson] getting going early and me and [Jarrett] Jack chip in and help, we just kind of feed off of each other.” On if the energy is contagious:
“No question. Steph and Klay do it every night, if we’re able to add and help them with that, we’re hard to beat.”

On starting at the power forward position:
“That was a game-time decision. That was my first time playing forward all season. Coach [Jackson] just told me to go out there and be aggressive, I’m obviously going to make some mistakes, just stick with it. That’s what I tried to do.”

On sensing frustration from the Nuggets:
“A little bit. We know they made a lot of good runs in the first game at the end of the second quarter and third quarter we were just trying to key in on those and make sure we close down quarters; close down halves and stick to the game plan.”

On bringing the series home tied 1-1:
“Obviously we’re happy but you can’t get too happy on the farm. [Denver] has only lost three games at home all season and for us to have a close game the first game and close out this game meant a lot to us and hopefully we’ll just take care of business at home.”

On when he found out he would start at power forward:
“Right when we were about to go out Coach said, ‘H you’re going to play the 4 [power forward],’ so I said, ‘Oh, all right.’ I really wasn’t briefed about it. I was kind of charged at the moment, he said I would make some mistakes, just stick with it and just play it out.”

On overcoming adversity throughout the season:
“Ever since the Brandon Rush injury we just kind of banded together and got closer as a team. We’ve had situations when we haven’t had Steph, we haven’t had David before and we try to pull together. I think this was a real testament of us being close together as a team tonight.”

On his reverse-dunk:
“I was a young Richard Jefferson that play. I was trying to be aggressive I got up there; I didn’t really know what to do. I just tried to get it to the rim and I just happened to dunk it.”

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry

On the importance of winning this game:
“It was a big win for us. All factors taken into account with [David Lee], shorthanded, we wanted to get this win and go back to Oracle with the 1-1 split with the home court advantage. It’s a big win for us; everyone stepped up. Huge games by Jarrett [Jack] and Harrison [Barnes]; Klay [Thompson] had an extremely efficient game. Defensively, Draymond Green coming off the bench got some huge minutes for us so everyone contributed and that’s how we have to play the rest of the series without David Lee.”

On his ankle injury:
“It is sore. It’s a normal ankle sprain and I’ve dealt with it plenty of times, just the other foot. I don’t see any concern going forward to Friday night so I’ll receive my treatment and be back.”

On playing as the underdog:
“We have had no expectations on us from the start. Nobody picked us to make the playoffs, nobody picked us in this series. I am sure it was even more of a serious pick for them to not take us when David Lee went down so we have to stand. We understand that we don’t have many expectations outside of our locker room. We are a confident, resilient team that has bounced back from tough games before and we’ll do it again and we have that mentality coming in so there is no reason why that would change come Friday.”

POSTGAME NOTES

INDIVIDUAL

• Andre Iguodala finished the game with 18 points, seven assists and four rebounds. It was just the fourth time in his career that Iguodala has reached these totals in a playoff game, most recently doing so in last year’s playoffs vs. CHI on 5/10/12.

• Ty Lawson led the way for the Nuggets with 19 points and 12 assists. Lawson’s 12 assists set a postseason career high, besting his previous best of eight assists @LAL on 5/8/12.

• Additionally, Lawson is just the third Nugget to post at least 19 points and 12 assists in a playoff game, and the last to do so since Chauncey Billups accomplished this vs. DAL on 5/13/09.

• With 14 points off the bench, Anthony Randolph set a postseason career high in points, beating his previous best of two points.

• Corey Brewer led the way for the Nuggets off the bench with 19 points and three made three-pointers on 11 three-point attempts, setting postseason career highs in all categories.

• Additionally, Brewer’s 11 three-point attempts are the most by a Nugget in a playoff game since Michael Adams attempted 12 three-pointers @PHO on 4/30/89.

• Stephen Curry paced the Warriors with 30 points, 13 assists and five rebounds, marking just the third time in his career that he has posted these numbers in a single game.

• Additionally, Curry is just the third player since 2000, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul (twice), to post 30 points, 13 assists and five rebounds in a postseason game.

• Klay Thompson scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. He is the third-youngest player to score 20+ while shooting above 70% from the field and connecting on at least five three-pointers in the playoffs since 1986.

TEAM

• The Warriors evened up the first-round series 1-1 with a 131-117 win. Their 131 points is the most scored by any NBA team in a non-overtime playoff game since Houston scored 140 at Utah on 4/29/95. It was the most points by a Nuggets’ playoff opponent since San Antonio had 131 on 5/1/90.

• Golden State’s .646 field goal percentage was the highest by any team in the playoffs since Utah shot .651 on 4/25/91 vs. Phoenix.

• Stephen Curry (30 points), Jarrett Jack (26), Harrison Barnes (24) and Klay Thompson (21) are the first four Nuggets’ playoff opponents to all score 20+ points in a single game since the L.A. Lakers on 5/17/85 (James Worthy 28, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 27, Byron Scott 21, Michael Cooper 20).

• The Warriors’ 14 made three-pointers is a new Nuggets’ playoff opponent high. The previous high was 12 on two occasions, most recently Dallas on 5/13/09.

• The Nuggets 26 total rebounds set a new franchise playoff low. The previous low was 31 at Oklahoma City on 4/20/11.

• Tonight was the Nuggets first playoff loss when scoring 117+ points since they lost when they scored 117 on 5/11/09 at Dallas.