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04/29/2013 2:39 AM EDT
Curry leads Warriors past Denver 115-101 in Game 4
GOLDEN STATE 115, DENVER 101

By ANTONIO GONZALEZ
AP Sports Writer

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- His star point guard slowed by a sore
left ankle, Warriors coach Mark Jackson told Stephen Curry in
the first half he might shut him down for the rest of the game.



Curry quieted his coach with a resounding answer.



Curry shook off the soreness in his ankle to score 22 of his 31
points in a spectacular third quarter, leading the Warriors past
the Denver Nuggets 115-101 on Sunday night for a commanding 3-1
series lead.



"It was almost like a boxer that knew he was on the ropes,
because it was just a matter of time" said Jackson. "I told him
I don't need him to be a hero. Talk about smart coaching. And I
guess he realized and sensed it. He captured and embraced the
moment. The thing that stood out to me, it was almost as if he
had been waiting for this his entire career and he wasn't going
to allow his body to tell him it was too hurt to match the
moment."



Curry finished 10 of 16 from the floor, including 6 of 11 from
long range, and added seven assists in a dominant and dazzling
display that rivaled his days in the NCAA tournament for tiny
Davidson. Only this time, he stole the spotlight in the NBA
playoffs, earning praise from Hall of Famers and past and
present All-Stars all over social media.



Curry took a pain-killing injection before the game for the
first time in his career, though he looked slow early and even
covered his head in a towel on the bench late in the first
quarter. Then, he hit five 3-pointers in the third quarter to
lift Golden State to a 20-point lead and its third straight
victory in this frenetic and flashy series.



"I don't know what happened. Something kicked in there," Curry
said.



Jarrett Jack added 21 points and nine assists and Andrew Bogut
broke out in the first half with 12 points and five rebounds for
the sixth-seeded Warriors, who can close out the Nuggets in Game
5 on Tuesday night in Denver.



Ty Lawson scored 26 points and Andre Iguodala had 19 for the
third-seeded Nuggets. Denver won the rebounding battle for the
first time in this series - 37 to 29 - but Golden State didn't
miss much.



The Warriors outshot the Nuggets 55.7 to 46.5 percent.



"The next 48 hours are going to be difficult, to say the least,"
Nuggets coach George Karl said. "They found some magic, and we
have to find a way to take it away."



The Warriors lost All-Star forward David Lee to a season-ending
hip injury in Game 1, and Curry sprained his left ankle late in
Game 2. Seemingly down and out, Curry has carried the load
anyway.



The quick-shooting point guard hit 5 of 8 from beyond the arc in
a jaw-dropping third quarter, when nearly every gold-shirt
wearing fan in the sellout crowd of 19,596 stood and cheered.
Curry scored all 22 points in the final 6:22 of the quarter,
showing the kind of range that helped him make 272 3-pointers in
the regular season - three more than Ray Allen's record set in
2005-06 with Seattle.



Curry capped his remarkable run with two of his most
highlight-reel plays.



He stole the ball from Lawson, stopped in heavy traffic and
dropped in a 27-footer before sprinting all the way to the bench
high-fiving and chest-bumping teammates. Following a timeout,
Curry sprung free near for a corner 3 - looking back right in
front of Denver's bench - that gave Golden State a 91-72 lead
entering the fourth.



Curry's five 3s in the quarter were a Warriors playoff record
for a half.



"As soon as he gets the ball in the half court, he's in range,"
Bogut said.



Curry, wearing heavy tape around his nagging ankle, gave fans
another scare when Corey Brewer poked Curry in the right eye
going for a rebound early in the fourth. He returned about 4 1/2
minutes later, receiving another standing ovation from the home
fans and later said his eye wouldn't be an issue.



While Curry scored only seven points in the first half, Bogut
broke out in a big way to provide the one-two punch Golden State
had long envisioned.



The 7-footer from Australia had three big dunks in the first
half, including a thunderous right-handed slam over JaVale
McGee. Bogut, who received a technical foul in Game 3 for daring
Denver's big man to punch him on the chin during a face-to-face
altercation, stared back at McGee while backpedalling down
court.



"I just gathered myself and the ankle held up," Bogut said.



Bogut sat out the final 4:37 of the first half with three fouls,
and Andre Miller - whose last-second shot in Game 1 is the only
thing keeping Denver alive - almost single-handily brought the
Nuggets within a bucket. Then Curry hit his first 3-pointer of
the game - officially a 27-footer that seemed closer to the
scorer's table than the arc - as Golden State scored the last 11
points before the break to go ahead 56-44.



Lawson, who scored a career-playoff high 35 points in the Game 3
loss, rallied from a slow start to highlight a 14-4 run that
sliced Golden State's lead to 62-58 midway through the third
quarter. Just when it seemed they might crawl back, Curry
countered one devastating swish after another to put a major
dent in Denver's playoff hopes.



That's not the only patchwork needed, either.



Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried kicked a hold in the wall just
inside the visiting locker room afterward that symbolized his
team's frustration. The scene was reminiscent of the hole Dirk
Nowitzki put in the wall outside the locker room- which remains
till this day - when he threw a chair after his top-seeded
Dallas Mavericks were upset in the first round by Golden State
in 2007.



"There's no good news," said Faried, who had eight points and 12
rebounds. "The effort of coming back and trying to keep playing,
it was there. But when they come down and just hit 3s when
you've just crossed half-court, you can't scheme around that.
You can't stop that. We just have to find a way to not let them
do that.



NOTES: For the third straight game, Jackson listed Carl Landry
at power forward in his starting lineup submitted before the
game, even though Harrison Barnes started at power forward and
Landry came off the bench. Jackson said beforehand that he'd do
it again because "it worked." Karl said it's not what coaches
typically do but joked that Jackson is "consistent" and maybe
"superstitious." ... Jackson's wife, Desiree Coleman Jackson,
sang the national anthem.



---



Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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