May 3, 2013, 2:38 AM EST
There will be no game 7. The Warriors did what many, including me, thought they could not do before this series started. By holding on to beat the Nuggets 92-88 in game 6, they clinched the series and head to the 2nd round where they’ll face the San Antonio Spurs for the right to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
The Nuggets didn’t make it easy, however. In the first half, Denver struggled make shots but picked up their defensive intensity to force some turnovers while also pounding the Warriors on the offensive glass to take control of the game. Combined with an assertive Ty Lawson, the Nuggets jumped out to a quick 12-5 lead early, flashing signs that they would carry over their energy and effectiveness from their game 5 win.
The Warriors, meanwhile, didn’t look ready to deal with a Nugget team that was clearly ready to fight for their playoff lives. Golden State was sloppy in executing their offense and couldn’t find ways to free up their back court for the open looks that fuels their effectiveness. And even though they got a nice emotional boost from David Lee playing a short stint in the 2nd quarter, it didn’t translate into them being more accurate from the floor as they only hit 15 of their 39 first half shots and a two point deficit heading into halftime.
In the 3rd quarter that all changed however. After the game Stephen Curry said that head coach Mark Jackson kept telling him that it was his time and that he needed to find a way to raise his game. Curry must have taken those words to heart because when the 2nd half started he was a changed player.
In that 3rd period, Curry was nearly unstoppable scoring 14 points on 4-6 shooting with all of his makes coming from behind the arc. Beyond his shot making, Curry also dished out 3 assists and roasted the Denver defense when they tried to overcommit to him in the the open court.
Joining Curry as a difference maker in the period was Andrew Bogut, who scored 6 of his 14 points and grabbed 7 of his game high 21 rebounds in those 12 minutes. Bogut was masterful on defense, contesting shots at the rim and closing out possessions with his strong work on the glass. Further, when Curry drew attention on the perimeter, it was Bogut who slipped open around the rim and was able to finish inside.
With Curry rolling as both a scorer and distributor, the Warriors broke the game open, turning that 2 point halftime deficit into an 11 point lead heading into the final period.
However, the Nuggets weren’t simply going to go quietly with their season on the line. In the 4th quarter they rallied to pull the game within striking distance, even after falling behind by as many as 18 points. Led by a masterful Andre Iguodala (24 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists for the game), the Nuggets scratched and clawed their way back into the game by turning up the defensive pressure and then feasting on the Warriors mistakes. In the 4th quarter alone, the Warriors turned the ball over 10 times — many of them on careless plays where they simply didn’t value possession of the ball.
As the game got close and closer, you could sense the Warriors tightening up and the mistakes continued to hurt them. But a few calls in their favor — including a dicey blocking call on JaVale McGee — and some big free throws from Harrison Barnes and Jarrett Jack were enough to allow them to hold on down the stretch. It certainly wasn’t their best effort to close a game, but it was enough. Moving forward, they’ll have to clean things up if they’re to hang with the Spurs but that’s a topic for another day.
Meanwhile the Nuggets are going to have a long summer to think about all the things that went wrong in this series. From the lack of adjustments in the first few games to some bad mistakes on individual possessions in the clincher, there’s a lot for them to contemplate. The injury to Danilo Gallinari certainly didn’t help, but they had many good chances in this series and couldn’t find a way to get it done. And now, for the 9th time in 10 seasons, their playoffs end in the first round.
Dec 18, 2013, 2:49 AM EST
Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while salivating over the idea of a “Rounders” sequel. Or wincing at the idea. (Count me with the latter group.) Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers. Two clutch game winners in a row. Tuesday night he had 23 of his 36 points in the second half…
Dec 18, 2013, 1:15 AM EST
To me, that looked like the start of a punch that Jordan Hamilton thought better of before it landed but couldn’t stop. And Hamilton is going to get suspended for that. Less than a minute into the fourth quarter of a game where the Thunder were in control (up 10), the Thunder were heading back…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:10 PM EST
This is the one thing that is certain: Omer Asik will get his wish and be traded in the next 48 hours. Houston still plans to move him by Dec. 19 — after that date and they can’t flip any of the assets they get at the trade deadline. Where he is going to land…
Dec 17, 2013, 9:39 PM EST
Just two nights ago, Damian Lillard hit the game winner in overtime to lift the Blazers over the Pistons. Tuesday night he was playing the hero again. The Blazers and Cavaliers were tied 116-116 with 7.1 seconds left and Portland inbounded the ball and went with the simple 1-4 flat play and let Lillard create. I’m…
Dec 17, 2013, 8:17 PM EST
San Antonio’s ability to be without a player, just plug in another guy and make it work is the stuff of legend. However, it’s a lot harder for them to do this with Tony Parker than anyone else — he is the focal point of the offense. Yet that’s what the Spurs are going to…
Dec 17, 2013, 7:13 PM EST
Because the Knicks don’t have enough other issues to deal with… Mike Woodson said on Tuesday afternoon that he could be without Amar’e Stoudemire for a while — with Kenyon Martin out too Tyson Chandler can’t bet back fast enough (likely Friday). Here’s Woodson’s direct quite, via ESPNNewYork.com. “Amar’e’s going to be out a while,”…
Dec 17, 2013, 6:01 PM EST
You need to go back seven seasons to find one where at least one NBA coach wasn’t canned before Christmas. Right now we are eight days away from Santa’s visit and it looks like he once again may not bring any pink slips in his bag. If that changes, it’s because of the Knicks. While…
Dec 17, 2013, 5:04 PM EST
It’s been known for a while the Cavaliers have been testing the trade market for Dion Waiters. We told you last week that there was buzz the Sixers could look to move Evan Turner — he leads them in scoring and as a free agent this summer could draw a bigger contract than they want…
Dec 17, 2013, 4:17 PM EST
Golden State is just one more loss away from being a .500 team — for all the sexy play of their sharpshooters they are not playing good defense anymore not winning games (6-9 in last 15, with the 17th ranked defense in the league). Who they miss is Andre Iguodala — and they could get…
Dec 17, 2013, 3:47 PM EST
UPDATE 3:47 pm: It didn’t take long for multiple quality sources to shoot this idea down. Spoke w/source moments ago who said the latest Rajon Rondo rumor that he will be traded to the Sacramento #Kings, is "not happening."— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) December 17, 2013 FYI re: Rajon Rondo rumor, Celtics & Kings have…
Dec 17, 2013, 3:15 PM EST
Google search records are not the best way to test the popularity of something, but it is a pretty democratic way. Bottom line is you find out who people want to find out more about. As a fun little NBA treat, Google released Tuesday their most searched NBA players… and if you have to guess…
Dec 17, 2013, 1:59 PM EST
Last we checked on Brian Shaw, the Nuggets coach was blaming his team’s slow starts on pizza and nachos. But replacing the junk food with healthier options hasn’t turned Denver’s fortunes early in games. The Nuggets have lost all eight first quarters this month, though they’ve gone 5-3 in those games. The issue isn’t isolated…
Dec 17, 2013, 1:25 PM EST
If you still want to buy Michael Jordan’s home you can — it’s still on the market. Jordan has been trying to sell his Chicago compound — which has 9 bedrooms, 15 bathrooms, a dining room table that is like a grid of the city of Bagdad, a pool with a grass island in the…
Dec 17, 2013, 12:57 PM EST
Chris Kaman, after doing it with the Mavericks last season, knows playing on a one-year contract comes with all kinds of complications. Before the season, he said: There’s just so many things that can happen, and the biggest one is that you’re on a one-year deal and you’re worried about it the whole time and…
Dec 17, 2013, 12:22 PM EST
There wasn’t much to see after halftime of the Heat’s easy win over the Jazz — Utah got the ball inside and scored on second chance points in the first half, but talent wins out in the NBA and Miami has much more than Utah. Miami turned this into a rout. However one potentially important…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:44 AM EST
Alec Burks scored a career-high 31 points against the Heat on Monday night, so let’s all overreact. That should be easy for Marvin Williams, who’s been overreacting to his Jazz teammate’s good play for a while. Via Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune: “He had a hell of a game,” Utah forward Marvin Williams…
Dec 17, 2013, 11:15 AM EST
The NBA warned Tony Wroten for flopping, and he deserved it. Here’s video (hat tip: Ben Golliver of Point Forward): Wroten was wide open when he shot, and he still fell. He clearly stuck his foot out to either draw contact or lose his balance. It’s the type of play that could get someone injured.…
Dec 17, 2013, 10:41 AM EST
He was simply having a wonderful Christmas time. As part of his holiday festivities Paul McCartney — That would be Sir Paul McCartney to you, the legendary Beatles singer, founder of Wings, followed by an amazing solo career — went to the Nets-76ers game Monday night in Brooklyn and didn’t sit hidden away in a luxury…
Dec 17, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
The Knicks recently elevated Pablo Prigioni’s role, and they were better for it. In the three games prior to Monday’s contest against Washington, Prigioni played 31, 39 and 31 minutes – his first 30-minute games since a season-opening win over the Bucks. And he produced: 16 assists, one turnover and eight steals in the three…
Dec 17, 2013, 9:30 AM EST
The Knicks’ latest setback, a home loss to the Wizards, does what every New York loss does: It intensifies the public scrutiny on Mike Woodson. But within the walls of Madison Square Garden, that’s not necessarily the case. First of all, who knows what James Dolan is thinking? There’s little sense using logic to guess…
- Tuesday night NBA grades: Damian Lillard is clutch 0
- Nuggets Jordan Hamilton ejected for striking Thunder’s Steven Adams (VIDEO) 3
- Asik trade update: Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland and Philadelphia most likely destinations 6
- Another day, another Damian Lillard game-winning shot 10
- Spurs’ Tony Parker out at least two games with shin injury 2
- NFL legend Jim Brown takes shot at Kobe Bryant, Kobe fires back (104)
- Report: Heat have interest in Celtics’ Jordan Crawford (50)
- Deserving or not Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade among All-Star starters in early voting returns (48)
- Pau Gasol expresses frustration with D’Antoni offense. Lakers have to think trade. (46)
- Mike D’Antoni to Pau Gasol: “There’s no reason to not play hard” (45)