The Golden State Warriors started out slow, but in the end, they overcame an ugly last two minutes to take hold of the series lead 2-1 against the Denver Nuggets with a 110-108 win.
The Nuggets came out like a 55-plus win team in the first half. They trapped and forced numerous Warriors mistakes that led to easy transition buckets that were mostly non-existent in the first two games. They also attacked the lane and got to the free throw line early and often. Ty Lawson was mostly unstoppable, totaling 35 points and 10 assists.
But, with the yellow-everything crowd behind them, the Warriors clawed their way back into the game with a 33-18 third quarter. You could feel the momentum turning their way when the three-pointers started falling, even from Draymond Green. Carl Landry, who had 19 points off the bench, picked up Klay Thompson, who struggled.
Jarrett Jack was solid again, but he had many unforced errors that nearly cost the Warriors the game, including a five-second call with under a minute left when the Warriors still had timeouts remaining. Harrison Barnes continued his non-nonchalant rise with 19 points and 7 boards, coming alive in the second half with three treys down the stretch.
But, this game again belonged to Stephen Curry yet again. Shackled by Andre Iguodala and the half court trap of blitzing defenders, Curry came alive when his teammates needed him the most.
Late in the fourth, he had probably the horse shot of the year when he shot a left-handed finger roll that tinkled the tin and bounced in. Then, he got in the lane again and released an underhand floater over the tall timber in the lane that increased the lead further.
Curry has had the type of series that brings back memories of the ‘07 hero, Baron Davis, and its pretty eerie. Both did not make the All-Star team, played hot teams coming into the playoffs, got injured in the first couples of games (Baron pulled his hamstring in game two against the Mavs) and both were the best players on the floor for the most part. Don’t make any mistake, the Warriors are likely getting swept without Curry in the fold.
However, they were some things to take notes of during Game 3.
It seems that there is some bad blood brewing between some Nuggets and Andrew Bogut. Faried, JaVale McGee and Lawson all had heated exchanges with the Aussie. There were multiple instances when Bogut was obviously attempting to get under the skin of many of his opponents, and it appeared to work. In addition, Jack may have had too much Red Bull before the game, as he got a technical foul in the first quarter for mouthing off.
What made this win even more exciting for Golden State was the fact that they still out-rebounded the Nuggets and (42-34), outshot them (52.5 percent-46.5 percent), all while turning over the ball 23 times (which led to six additional shots for the Nuggets.
The Warriors still won the game even after being down 12 at the half after the Nuggets came out with the sense of urgency you would expect from a team that won 58 games and was just embarrassed on their home floor. If they protect the ball, they clean the glass, limiting easy second chances, and, have proven that the Nuggets will not (cannot?) slow down their scoring.
This can only bode well for the Warriors going forward in Game 4 when the crowd should be even more hyped and primed to continue this magical ride.