The Warriors got a surprising cameo from David Lee and another big second half from Stephen Curry as the Warriors rallied to beat the Denver Nuggets 92-88 Thursday to win their first-round playoff series 4-2.
Lee was on the court for less than two minutes of game time in the first quarter, and Denver had its way early in the game, grabbing six offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone and running out to an 11-point lead midway through the second quarter.
Lee’s return came out of left field as it was previously announced the Warriors’ All-Star would miss the rest of the postseason after he tore his hip flexor in Game 1.
“Obviously, part of it was inspiration,” Jackson said of the decision to play Lee. “It got the crowd going.”
Curry finished the game with 22 points, despite making just one of his six shots in the first half. Harrison Barnes scored seven in the first half and Andrew Bogut had eight to keep the Warriors in the game before halftime, pushing it to 42-40 at the break.
It was a different story after intermission, however, as Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried — the centerpiece of a controversial war of words between coaches this week regarding his style of play — picked up his third and fourth fouls of the game and found himself on the bench with 10:12 left in the third.
Fueled by a pair of 3-pointers from Curry, the Warriors immediately went on an 8-0 run in just over a minute, claiming a 50-46 lead they would never relinquish.
By the end of the third, Curry had already totaled 20 points on 5-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-7 from behind the arc, and Bogut had already swallowed 17 rebounds to go with his 14 points. The big Australian finished with 14 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks. Bogut is the first Warrior with 20 rebounds in the playoffs since Larry Smith had 23 on May 12, 1987, against the Los Angeles Lakers. Rookie Draymond Green chipped in 16 points and 10 rebounds.
The Warriors led by as many as 18 in the fourth, but the Nuggets nearly tied the game at 90-90 with 11 seconds left. Wilson Chandler missed two shots from within four feet before Faried committed a basket interference.
Curry averaged 24.3 points and 9.3 rebounds in the series, recording two double-doubles and hitting 19 of his 45 attempts from behind the 3-point line in the series.
This is the second consecutive playoff trip for the Warriors that has resulted in a first-round upset, as the 2006-07 team knocked off the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks 4-2.
Golden State will open the second round of the playoffs against the Spurs in San Antonio on Monday. They split the regular season series with the Spurs 2-2, with the home team winning each game. The Warriors haven’t won in San Antonio since 1997.