David Lee went from Golden State’s All-Star power forward and double-double machine to the Warriors’ biggest cheerleader and strategic adviser during timeouts.
Mostly, though, he just sat back and enjoyed the show when the Warriors stunned the Nuggets 131-117 to even their playoff series at a game each.
Golden State Warriors hardly missed much of anything. Not many of their shots, and not even their injured All-Star, who is out for the rest of the playoffs with a torn right hip flexor.
Behind Stephen Curry’s 30 points and 13 assists, the Warriors became the first opponent to walk off the Pepsi Center court a winner since the Washington Wizards on January18.
The Warriors also got 26 points from surprise starter Jarrett Jack, a career-high 24 from rookie Harrison Barnes in his debut at power forward and 21 from Klay Thompson.
Most importantly, the 6th-seeded Warriors, who became the 2nd road team to win in the postseason following Chicago’s victory at Brooklyn on Monday, wrested home-court advantage from the NBA’s best home team.
”They were knocking down shots,” Denver’s Andre Iguodala said.
That’s an understatement. They were knocking them down better than they ever had before in a playoff game, a franchise playoff-record 64.6 percent from the field (51 of 79).
Every one of the 9 Golden State Warriors who took at least a shot made better than half of them.
”Man, they were knocking it down,” Ty Lawson marveled.
”We are a very good shooting basketball team,” Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson related. ”We’ve got guys that can knock down shots. You talk about Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, in my opinion, they’re the best shooting backcourt in the history of the game.” Scores
The 3rd-seeded Denver Nuggets were an NBA-best 38-3 at home in the regular season but needed Andre Miller’s last-second shot to beat Golden State by a basket in the opener and extend their franchise-best winning streak to 24 games.
With Golden State losing Lee to a torn hip flexor and the Nuggets getting top rebounder and energizer Kenneth Faried back from a sprained ankle, this one looked like a mismatch, even Curry acknowledged.
And it was, only not the way the Pepsi Center crowd anticipated.
”We’re a resilient team, said that all year. When guys go down, other guys step up,” said Curry, who played through a tender left ankle after turning it late in 3rd quarter. ”We proved that tonight. Big road win for us. We’ve got to go back home and protect our homecourt.”
Even without their All-Star, the Warriors outrebounded the Nuggets 36-26.
”We did not do much of anything really well,” Nuggets Coach George Karl lamented. ”I do not think I ever coached a game when a team got three 35-point quarters, maybe in my career, ever.”
The best anybody shot against Denver in the season was 54 percent, by the Lakers way back on November 20, and the most points Denver had allowed was 126 at San Antonio on November 17.
Curry scored just one bucket, a 3-pointer, after turning his ankle but said he does not expect it to be an issue Friday night when the series shifts back to Oakland for Game 3.