If you have an anxiety problem, you may want to not watch any more games between the Nuggets and Warriors. Because this series is fast. It’s chaotic. It doesn’t make any sense — it’s like like a monster truck show on a basketball court.
Steph Curry is the deadliest player left in the playoffs not named LeBron James or Kevin Durant. His 3-point stroke is so impressive, that it’s surprising if he misses a shot regardless of how well defended he is. His mid-range jumper is better than his layup and when he shoots a long 2-pointer early in the shot clock, nobody is mad at him. Because, welp, it’s probably a good shot. In fact, I’m not sure there’s such thing as a bad shot from Curry, because mostly anything he throws up has a chance of going in.
Lawson was amazing. His 35 point/10 assist performance in Game 3 was one that will be put in the back of our memories of great 1st round performance. Lawson was faster than everyone on the floor who didn’t have a ball in their hands, when he had a ball in his. His body control at the rim is impressive as he’s able to contort his body and finish at either side of the cup. And when he’s hitting jump shots from 10-15 feet? Yeah, you’re not going to stop him.
Let’s get started in the first quarter:
1st quarter — Nuggets 32, Warriors 32:
Immediately you could see the defensive adjustments that the Nuggets and coach George Karl made. They were extremely aggressive early, trapping hard on pick-and-rolls and extending their defensive to well past the 3-point line. Denver’s pressure forced the Warriors into six turnovers in the first quarter: Iguodala made a living in the passing lane, deflecting passes and creating havoc to Golden State’s ball movement, leading to transition opportunities for the Nuggets.
Jarrett Jack, who started his second straight game, looked great early. He scored the Warriors’ first eight points of the game, lining up two jumpers over the late outstretched arms of Ty Lawson, finishing a left-handed layup through traffic and scoring a transition layup (though he picked up a *questionable* technical foul call for taunting).
Lawson, who is still recovering from plantar fasciitis looked 100 percent healthy. He was attacking early and often and *wait for it*… getting foul calls. Lawson knocked down a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe and finished the 1st with 13 points. For a stretch, he and Curry were going up-and-down the court swapping buckets and it was truly basketball porn.
Quick, fun, fast-paced first quarter of action.
2nd quarter — Nuggets 66, Warriors 54
Corey Brewer hit a 35-footer! That’s how you beat a 2-3 zone!
Denver extended the lead to nine after a Kenneth Faried jump hook, but that was cut quickly after a pull-up jumper from Harrison Barnes. Brewer answered with a 3-pointer, his 9th point in less than six minutes in the 2nd quarter. Brewer finished the 2nd quarter scoring 12 points in a variety of ways: from three, from pull up jumpe
rs, from floaters, from the free-throw line, etc.
The Nuggets ended the 2nd quarter on a 13-2 run, behind an aggressive stretch by Ty Lawson. He finished the 1st half with 19 points and 6 assists on nine shots from the field and a perfect 7-of-7 from the free-throw line. Denver, as a team, shot 14-of-17 from the charity stripe in the first half.
The Warriors turned the ball over 14 times in the 1st half. They turned the ball over just 17 times total in Game 2. When you’re playing a team like the Nuggets who thrive in transition, it’s probably a good idea to take care of the ball.
3rd quarter — Nuggets 84, Warriors 87
Steph Curry picked up his fourth foul with 9:34 left to play in the 3rd quarter and Mark Jackson decided to keep him in. Kenneth Faried picked his fourth foul less than two minutes later: George Karl kept him in.
A pair of Curry free throws cut the Nuggets lead down to four.
And a Jarrett Jack fall away mid range jumper brought the game within two on the ensuing Warriors’ possession forcing coach Karl to call a Denver timeout with 6:11 left in the 3rd. A Steph Curry 3-pointer gave the Warriors their first lead — 74-73 — since the 1st quarter.
Lawson continued his stellar offensive play in the 3rd quarter, abusing whatever defender was put in front of him. Remember that scene in Gladiator where guys are reluctantly thrown in front of Russell Crowe knowing they’re going to die before he makes his first move? That was Lawson in the third quarter of Game 3 between Denver and Golden State. Whoever had to guard him knew he would score and stood no chance when he turned the jets on and attacked the rim.
The lineup of Miller-Brewer-Iguodala-Chandler-Koufos played for way too long and they were completely awful. Denver fell apart in this quarter thanks to Andre Miller’s ineptitude on both ends of the floor and hot shooting from Golden State.
Oh and Jarrett Jack had 10 points, 3 assists in the quarter.
Final: Nuggets 108, Warriors 110
Miller-Brewer-Iggy-Faried-Randolph in for the Nuggets to start the 4th. Jack-Thompson-Barnes-Green-Landry in for the Warriors. Randolph scored the first four points for Denver to start the final 12 minutes. On the other end, Randolph goaltended a shot that had no chance of going in into the second row. And then Draymond Green hit a corner 3-pointer on the ensuing Golden State possession to give the Warriors a four point lead with a little over 10 minutes left to play.
**** I blacked out from about 9:00-1:00: there were bodies flying, people making ridiculous shots, Andre Miller vomiting all over the game and a lot of running up-and-down the court.*****
Curry had a chance to give the Warriors a five point lead but missed a long two point jumper. Iggy turned the ball over on the ensuing Nuggets possession when he got caught in the air and threw the ball away. The Nuggets were forced to foul Jarrett Jack when he touched the ball. He missed his first and sunk his second with 21.5 seconds remaining.
Wilson Chandler knocked down a corner 3-pointer to cut the lead down to one. Jarrett Jack got the ball in-bounds but the Nuggets who were reluctant to foul allowed him to run the clock down to 9.4 seconds and call a timeout across half court. The Warriors were unable to get ball in-bounds, forcing the refs to call a 5-second call and giving the Nuggets a chance to win the game with 9.4 seconds left to play.
Ty Lawson was bumped by Ezeli, but no call was made and Lawson dribbled out of bounds, giving the ball back to Golden State with 5.3 ticks left on the clock. The play went to review to see if the ball went off Ezeli’s knee or off of Lawson’s hand, but the refs decided the ball went off of Lawson’s fingers, keeping the ball in Golden State’s possession.
Golden State rookie Harrison Barnes went to the free-throw line for two with 3.7 seconds left to play. Barnes missed his first hard off the back rim but sunk his second. Iguodala got a running shot off at the buzzer that bounced off the front rim, ending one of the craziest games in recent playoff memory.
The Nuggets still have troubling defensive issues: the big guys are often caught ball watching — leaving their man wide open — and aren’t able to recover in time to affect the shot. Also, Andre Miller was terrible. For all of his heroics in Game 1, Miller imploded Friday night and really killed Denver for long stretches at a time. He looked old, senile and unable to perform at all in an NBA game. Miller shot 2-for-13 from the floor and his plus/minus was -9 in a game the Nuggets lost by two. Karl’s decision to stick with Miller late was one of habit and shouldn’t be surprising to Nuggets fans, but it would have been nice to see him cut Dre’s minutes significantly. Surely Fournier couldn’t have played THAT bad.
I’ll have more coverage of this game in the coming days.
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