The Denver Nuggets will force a Game 6 in Oakland with a 107-100 win Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors.
George Karl decided to go big with his starting lineup against Mark Jackson’s small-ball team that gave Nuggets trouble in the first four games. Karl trotted out a starting five of Lawson-Iguodala-Chandler-Faried-McGee. McGee, who started his first game of the season Tuesday night, did not disappoint. He was active early and looked focused: blocking shots, rebounding and finishing around the rim.
Iguodala and Chandler played their best collective game of the series. Chandler finished with 19 points, nailing 5-of-11 from range. Iguodala carried the Nuggets in the third quarter and flirted with a triple double, finishing with 25 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. He was deflecting balls on the defensive end and looked very aggressive to find his offense: attacking the rim and splashing spot up jumpers.
The combination of Jack-Curry-Thompson-Barnes struggled shooting from the floor all game. The combination shot 27-of-69 from the field for just 39.1 percent. In part, that had to do with Denver’s defense. The Nuggets looked very conscience of their rotations. The Warriors did miss open shots — Faried lost Barnes in the half court set a few times — but overall Denver looked much better defensively than the past three games.
Denver was hitting on all cylinders in the first half. It was getting out in transition off of Golden State turnovers and scoring easy fast break buckets. The Warriors shot much worse than they had in the first half, reminding the audience that they are in fact human.
The Warriors cut the lead to 11 on a pair of Harrison Barnes free throws. On the next Denver possession, Lawson drove hard into the teeth of the defense, drawing a foul, nailing one-out-of-two and extending the lead back to 12. A Klay Thompson corner 3-pointer cut the lead to single digits, capitalizing a 11-1 run and bringing Golden State within nine.
Another one-for-two from the line for Lawson brought the lead back to 10. Less than a minute later, Curry found a cutting Ezeli in transition, who finished and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but the lead was cut to eight. A turnover on Denver’s next possession gave Golden State the opportunity to make it a two possession game with just over five minutes left. Curry made an in-and-out move and finished with his right hand at the bucket to bring Golden State within six.
Curry was called for reaching on the following possession, his fifth foul of the game. Iguodala nailed both free throws to give the Nuggets an eight point lead with just over five minutes left to play. Curry hit a step back 3-pointer off a screen, bringing the Denver lead to five. Miller took, and missed, a questionable shot, but Lawson stole the following outlet pass. Miller lobbed a backdoor alley-oop to Kenneth Faried on the next possession. Jarrett Jack hit a pull up two-pointer and all of the sudden the fast-paced back-and-forth series we saw the first four games was back.
Ezeli was called for a moving screen with 3:41 remaining and the Warriors down 98-93. Coming out of a Mark Jackson timeout, an Andre Miller mid-post jumper extended the lead back to seven. A Thompson turn around baseline hook shot brought the Warriors within five. A couple possessions later, Chandler nailed a corner 3.
A couple minutes later Iguodala jammed in an airball to give the Nuggets a 105-96 lead. On Denver’s next possession, Faried finished a backdoor alley-oop. Those two plays solidified Denver’s Game 5 victory and prolonged its playoff life.
The series will move back to Oakland where the Nuggets will again have to fight for their playoff lives in front of a rowdy Oracle Arena. The game will be broadcasted on TNT at 10:30 ET.
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