Steph Curry, Mark Jackson and the Golden State Warriors effectively ended the Denver Nuggets 2012-13 season Thursday night with a 92-88 victory in Oakland. Curry didn’t play a particularly great game–he finished with 22 points, 8 assist and 7 turnovers–but his hot shooting stretch in the third quarter sparked a run that gave the Warriors a lead and dug the Nuggets in a hole that they couldn’t get out of.
For Nuggets fans, the abrupt end in the 2012-13 playoffs will sting for a while. Denver was coming off its best regular season in franchise history, winning 57 games–38 at home– and locking up the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
The Warriors out-rebounded Denver 55-45; Bogut grabbed 21 of those and scored 14 points, both career playoff highs. The Nuggets forced 19 turnovers and coughed the ball up just seven times but struggled to get out in transition and score easy buckets, their bread-and-butter all year.
The Nuggets’ half court offense was abysmal. They shot just 34.7 percent from the floor. Their lack of outside shooting allowed Golden State to sink in on offense and kept Bogut in the middle of the lane. Everyone not named Andre Iguodala shot 2-of-20 from 3-point range — Iggy hit 5-of-8 from deep. Iggy, again, flirted with a triple-double. He finished with 24 points, 9 boards and six dimes.
- Three bad calls on Faried early in the second half really gave Golden State the momentum and Denver never really got it back. Steph Curry got hot and that opened up the entire floor.
You didn’t actually expect this game to start off slow, did you? Denver came out aggressive, grabbing five offensive rebounds in the first five minutes. Golden State forward David Lee checked in late in the first quarter. He played a couple minutes, missed a jump shot and was taken out but his presence was inspiring, consider, you know, he tore his ACL.
Denver 25, Golden State 21
The second quarter was… ugly. Two Jarrett Jack layups brought the Warriors within three. Both times Andre Miller “defended”–if that’s what you want to call it.
The Warriors went on a 13-6 run after the half-way mark, to bring the scored to 40-36 with 1:50 left. A pair of Jarrett Jack and Steph Curry free throws and an alley-oop to Faried ended the first half at 42-40. JaVale McGee was the Nuggets’ MVP in the first half, scoring just five points but grabbed 8 rebounds, seven on the offensive glass.
Shots were going up and the Nuggets looked to push the pace but nothing was falling. Denver shot just 34 percent from the floor – 26 percent in the 2nd quarter. Golden State shot nearly as poor: 38.5 percent from the floor and 18.2 percent from range.
Prediction to self @ 10:54 CT — Both teams will reach 100 points. This poor shooting won’t sustain with the Warriors and the Nuggets will eventually find easy scoring opportunities in transition.
EDIT @ 1:39 CT — NOPE! DAMMIT I WAS WRONG.
HALFTIME: Denver 42, Golden State 40
Faried picked up three fouls in the first two minutes of the third, forcing Karl to take him out. McGee fouled Curry on the next possession. Curry knocked down both free throws and the game was tied 44-44. Curry knocked down a 3-pointer on his next possession, just his second field goal of the game. And of course, Curry–as he often does–nailed another, his second straight, giving the Warriors a 50-44 lead.
Out of the timeout, Golden State played a 2-3 matchup zone and Iguodala knocked down a corner 3-pointer. But a kick out to Carl Landry on the other end, extended the lead back to five. A Koufos slam brought it to three, and then Steph Curry knocked down another 3-pointer– his 11th point in the first five minutes of the third. On the next Golden State possession, he isolated Ty Lawson and threw a no look pass to Andrew Bogut who slammed an easy bucket.
Lawson drew three free throws and the following possession by pump faking and jumping into the defender. Andrew Bogut ran down two offensive rebounds, both leading to buckets and on the Warriors’ next possession Carl Landry finished a hard drive and-the-foul in traffic. The Warriors held an 11 lead after Carl Landry completed his and-one at the free throw line.
The Nuggets weren’t getting help from the referees but the offense was abysmal in the first seven minutes of the 3rd quarter. Faried returned to the game with a little over two minutes left in the third and sunk a running scoop shot immediately. A minute later he scored the next bucket of the game on a jump hook from 10-feet away.
Corey Brewer missed two 3-pointers in the final 13 seconds and fouled Jarrett Jack 95-feet from the basket practically gave the Warriors two points for free with .08 seconds left in the third quarter.
Denver 62, Golden State 73
A Draymond Green 3-pointer gave the Warriors a 16 point lead with under 10 minutes left. On the next Golden State possession, Thompson scored off an offensive rebound, bringing the lead to 18. The second half was a total Nugget meltdown. The offense had no spacing with no knock down 3-point shooter. Andrew Bogut was able to sit in the middle, because the lack of ball movement allowed him to anchor directly a the rim.
The Nuggets cut the lead to seven–with a little over five minutes left to play–after an easy bucket for Lawson and an easy dunk for McGee. An Andre Miller post up, led to a foul and gave the old man two shots at the line. He drilled both, making the score 80-75 with 4:42 left to play.
Draymond Green scored on a roll to the bucket and Iguodala drilled a corner 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four. McGee was called for a blocking foul on the next possession and Green hit both free throws. On the flip side, Green was called on a block, sending McGee to the free throw line. He missed both. Green tipped in an Andrew Bogut miss, his sixth straight point.
Lawson got to the free throw line, made 1-of-2 and brought the lead back down to seven. Curry hit a scoop shot in the paint to extend the lead back to nine. Iguodala hit a 3-pointer right on Denver’s next possession. A trap at half court forced the Warriors to call timeout with 1:41 remaining.
Curry passed the ball out of bounds, coming out of the timeout but Iguodala missed a 3-pointer on Denver’s possession. Curry stepped out of bounds with 1:23 left to play and the Warriors up 88-82. Lawson missed a shot off a pick, but Wilson Chandler stole the rebound and got an easy bucket. From the baseline, the Warriors turned it over but Lawson attacked the bucket and couldn’t draw a foul.
Harrison Barnes came up with the loose ball and was fouled. He went to the free throw line and sunk both. Iguodala hit a pull up 3-pointer off a Kenneth Faried screen, cutting the lead to three with under a minute left. Barnes missed a pull up three on the other end, giving the Nuggets the ball down three. Faried was fouled near the rim and went to the line for two free throws. He missed his first but hit his second with 32.4 seconds left. The Warriors got the ball across half court and called a timeout with 23.5 remaining and 15 seconds left on the shot clock.
Iguodala tipped the in-bounds pass, giving Denver a chance to tie or take the lead but Wilson Chandler missed his floater and his put-back opportunity. The ball was called out off of the Nuggets, but the refs went to the monitor to check, and the ball remained in Golden State’s possession. Jarrett Jack was fouled on the sideline, with a chance to give the Warriors a four point lead with a little over seven seconds remaining. He hit both, giving Golden State a two-possession lead.
Denver called a timeout, bringing the ball to half court. Andre Miller shot a 3-pointer that had no chance of going in, a fitting way to end the Nuggets’ season.
FINAL: Denver 92, Golden State 88
Some quick after-thoughts on the series:
- It’s fair to wonder if David Lee’s injury actually helped the Warriors in this series. I wish him a speedy recovery, but when he went down Jackson had the ability “shock the system” of sorts. The Warriors small-ball starting lineup of Game 2, 3 and 4 forced Denver big men to guard on the perimeter. Faried, McGee and Koufos were unable to do that, thus spreading the floor and letting the Warriors shooters get open shots. When Golden State started hitting shots, the middle opened up. It became unguardable with the personnel that Denver had, which brings me to my next point:
- It’s also fair to wonder how the series might have differed if Gallinari was healthy. Gallo is a solid defender who would have been able to hang with Barnes on the perimeter at the four-spot. Gallo is capable of knocking down jumpers and his ability to put the ball on the floor could have helped a stagnant Denver offense.
- George Karl had his issues in this series: his love affair with the abysmal Andre Miller was befuddling and his defensive match ups often made no sense. At some point–if you’re Karl– do you not realize that Curry is ligh
ting you up AND you have a top-5 wing defender in the league NOT guarding him? Iggy should have been given the challenge of guarding the league’s best 3-point shooter when he and Curry were on the floor at the same time. But:
- Karl wasn’t on the floor missing 3-pointer after 3-pointer. Karl didn’t tell Wilson Chandler to grab the rim as Corey Brewer’s layup was rolling in. Karl didn’t control Randolph as he goaltended one of the worst shots in history. He didn’t miss free throws down the stretch. He has blame to take. But it’s an overreaction to call for his job after one of the best seasons in Denver Nugget history.