It finally happened. The Denver Nuggets dropped a game in their home building, losing 131-117 to the Golden State Warriors Tuesday night, evening their series with the Dubs at a game a piece. It was Denver's first home loss since January 18.
Through the first half, it appeared the matchup would take the full 48 minutes once again to find an outcome, like in Game 1 Saturday. After a few extended Warriors runs, though, this one was never really in doubt after halftime. By the closing minutes, it was a postseason laugher.
Stephen Curry brought the hearts of NBA fans everywhere outside of Denver to a halt in the third quarter, when he rolled one of those delicate ankles.
He checked out immediately after, but was able to return for the start of the fourth quarter.
After a 1-of-5 shooting start, Curry was clearly locked in. By the half, he had a near-double-double in the bag with 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting and seven assists, finishing with 30 points and 13 assists on the night. Klay Thompson added 21, Jarrett Jack put up 26 and seven assists as a starter, and Harrison Barnes scored 24 with six rebounds.
Barnes also silenced the Pepsi Center crowd in the midst of a Denver comeback attempt with this highlight-reel slam.
Andre Iguodala enjoyed a much better outing than his Game 1 performance Saturday. He connected on 6-of-11 shots for 18 points—including two monster jams in the first quarter.
Ty Lawson, however, shined most for the Nuggets. His double-double was sealed early in the second half, as he finished with 19 points and 12 assists. Five other Nugs also finished with double-figure scoring and Iguodala dished out seven assists.
Evan Fournier got the start for Denver but only put up one shot in nine minutes and scored four points. Anthony Randolph scored 14 points in just 10 minutes.
Kenneth Faried returned to the Nuggets lineup after missing the previous three games with ankle issues and finished with just four points and two rebounds in 21 minutes. He got himself into a bit of foul trouble early—he committed his second just a few seconds into the second—and finished with five total.
Speaking of foul trouble, Festus Ezeli, Andrew Bogut and Barnes racked up two fouls each by the 10-minute mark in the second. The Warriors were forced to play small, but Jackson explained the limited length to the TNT crew by noting that Denver was running Wilson Chandler at the power forward position.
Golden State broke away to an eight-point lead at the half, thanks to a six-minute stretch toward the end of the second quarter. The team shot 67 percent to Denver's 25 percent and out-rebounded the Nugs 7-2 in an extended 20-8 run.
Denver did its best to trade baskets with the Warriors much of the way, but Golden State's ridiculous 64.6 percent shooting was just too much for the Nuggets to match. Here's how the shots looked for the Dubs:
Though Javale McGee finished with just three boards off the bench in 14 minutes for the Nuggets, but supplied the home crowd with some "oooohs" and "ahhhhs" thanks to this unbelievable shot.
Both teams were without their ex-New York Knick cornerstones—Golden State missing David Lee after he suffered a torn hip flexor on Saturday, and Denver sans Danilo Gallinari, who's been sidelined with a torn ACL.
Without Lee down low, Mark Jackson started his three-guard lineup, with Curry, Jack and Thompson at the 3. Harrison Barnes was bumped up to the power forward spot while Andrew Bogut remained at center.
Speaking of former Knicks, Wilson Chandler put up a line of 14 points and six rebounds, and managed to throw down this epic dunk early in the game. His unimpressed demeanor would never give it away, but this is what Wilson Chandler does.
In Game 1, the Dubs won the rebounding battle by 10, and even without the benefit of Lee crashing the glass Tuesday night, Golden State still managed to out-rebound their third-seeded opponent 36-26.
It'll be interesting to watch how the rebound battle shakes out as the series continues, as the two teams now match up very evenly in size.
The Warriors have already done what many thought they'd never accomplish this series: win a game in Denver.
Off to Oracle they go for Game 3 in Oakland Friday. The Nuggets will need to do a much better job at containing shooters if they hope to resist falling behind in the series. If not, they'll be hearing the "no true superstar" mantra in their nightmares all offseason long.
After a sizzling start, Andre Iguodala really cooled off after the opening minutes.
Iguodala has scored DEN's last 9 points. He has 12 for the game on 5-for-5 shooting. GSW trailing 22-20 w/ 3:02 left in 1Q.— Golden St. Warriors (@warriors) April 24, 2013
George Karl had some harsh words for his team during the Warriors' 20-8 stretch in the second quarter.
George Karl in #Nuggets huddle: "Keep wearing them down. Don't get fatigued." Also wants better on-the-ball pressure defensively.— Denver Nuggets (@denvernuggets) April 24, 2013
#Nuggets coach George Karl: "Gentlemen, we're soft rebounding the ball, we're soft on the pick-and-roll, we're soft on ball pressure."— Denver Nuggets (@denvernuggets) April 24, 2013
Harrison Barnes' teammates couldn't help but get rowdy after his fourth-quarter smash.
Warriors celebrate vine.co/v/bPrbn3WYFdY— Lang Whitaker (@langwhitaker) April 24, 2013
Curry was clearly the focal point for Golden State Tuesday.
Stephen Curry scored 30 points Tuesday, and his assists led to another 33 points— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 24, 2013
The Warriors did shoot exceptionally well, but it's what their squad is built on.
Warriors got lucky with the 3pt shooting, but this is less an outlier for them than for anyone else.— Ethan Strauss (@SherwoodStrauss) April 24, 2013
In his first taste of playoff coaching, Mark Jackson seems to be excelling just as he did in shorts and high-tops.
Jackson did just about everything right. And Karl had no answer— Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) April 24, 2013