Denver Nuggets : 108 : : Golden State Warriors : 110 — April 26, 2013 (GAME 3)
This was a pretty good game that went down to the wire, but I think what struck me the most was the plays that weren’t made rather than those that were late in the game. I don’t mean to harp on little things and take away the buzz from a close game, but everyone just played so sloppy with the game on the line that it was painful. These moments in particular were frustrating:
- 3:35 left, Warriors +4: Klay Thompson has the ball poked away on the break after picking off a Ty Lawson pass, leading to a quick Denver bucket the other way;
- 2:20 left, Warriors +4: Stephen Curry sneaks up on Andre Miller along the baseline as he tries to corral the offensive rebound and steals the ball;
- 1:02 left, Warriors +2: Curry misses a fastbreak layup;
- 0:21 left, Warriors +3: Jarrett Jack misses a free throw;
- 0:16 left, Warriors +4: Richard Jefferson and Jack lose track of Wilson Chandler in the corner for a three;
- 0:16 left, Warriors +1: Nuggets waste almost half the clock before intentionally fouling;
- 0:09 left, Warriors +1: Warriors lose the ball on a 5 second inbound turnover;
- 0:05 left, Warriors +1: Lawson loses the ball while driving for a layup;
- 0:03 left, Warriors +1: Harrison Barnes misses a free throw, putting the lead at two instead of three.
All of that eventually led to an Andre Iguodala half court heave at the buzzer that drew iron and then a sigh of relief from the crowd. In the end, the better team won because while everyone was bungling plays, the Nuggets were also just playing consistently atrocious defense, especially on Stephen Curry. He was a nightmare shooting the ball all night (to the point where it almost seemed worth it to be right up on him and risk fouling on a jump shot rather than let him get a clean look) and he was even quicker than usual with the trigger. The best thing though is that he used the threat of the jumper to actually get into the paint. He got tough shots like the one above, but he freaking nailed them. Part of that is the Nuggets defenders letting him blow by them while the help defense came way too late, but he also deserves a ton of credit for how decisive he was with the ball in his hands.
I’ve basically turned into Charles Barkley over the last few weeks complaining about how the Warriors shoot too many jumpers, but Curry shut me up big time tonight. He probably could have destroyed the Nuggets from distance if he decided to do that, but instead he forced them to guard him all over the floor and risk fouling (he was 9-of-9 from the line), and his 29/6/11 was of the unstoppable variety.
Of course, Ty Lawson played him almost evenly (35/3/10), Corey Brewer’s numbers are starting to equal his effort and Kenneth Faried (15 points, 7 rebounds) is looking better after returning from injury in Game 2, but the Nuggets just don’t look like themselves as a team for large stretches at a time. Unfortunately they’re helping the Warriors look like their best selves while they’re at it. That defense on the ball handlers is the biggest problem (Jarrett Jack also sliced and diced his way to 23 points), so they’ve got to find a way to force them into more turnovers and get out in transition, like they did in the first half, if they want to have any success. They’re close, but they just haven’t quite figured out how to sustain it yet.
Golden State Warriors lead the series 2-1