Jackson on Curry: 'He embraced the moment'
Stephen Curry scored 19 points over the final 4 minutes, 22 seconds of the third quarter. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
OAKLAND -- There was a point early in Golden State's 115-101 win against Denver on Sunday when Stephen Curry sat at the end of the bench with a towel over his head, visibly distraught, worried about his ankle.
At the time, it would have been hard to predict he'd go on to have one of the most memorable postseason performances in Warriors history.
But after hitting on just one field goal through the first two and a half quarters, Curry caught fire. He hit a three at the 6:22 mark of the third quarter to give the Warriors a 69-62 lead and was nearly unstoppable from there.
Over the final 4:22 of the quarter, Curry added 19 more to put the Warriors in control of both the game and series. The No. 6-seeded Warriors will head to Denver on Tuesday with a 3-1 lead and a chance to close-out a team few gave them a chance to compete with.
"I actually took him out in the first half and was considering shutting him down and I told him that," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "It was almost like a boxer that knew he was on the ropes because it was just a matter of time."
Curry received an injection before the game to help ease the pain in his left ankle, but said it took awhile to kick in.
"It got loose as the game went along," Curry said. "I felt like I was able to move a little better."
Curry finished with 31 points, seven assists and four steals in just 33 minutes.
"I told him, I didn't need him to be a hero -- talk about good coaching," Jackson said. "I guess he realized and sensed that and he captured the moment and he embraced the moment."
In the fourth, Curry left again after getting poked in the eye, but said it shouldn't be an issue moving forward.
His five threes in the third double as a Warriors postseason record for threes in a quarter and a half.
As the Warriors built a 56-44 lead by halftime, it was Andrew Bogut who appeared destined for headlines.
Bogut tapped into his inner No. 1 overall pick early and by halftime, he'd tied his season-high with 12 points. The way he did it -- dunk after menacing dunk -- generated "We Believe" noise levels at Oracle Arena.
"He was off the charts," Jackson said. "Making plays out of double teams, setting great screens, rebounding the basketball and playing physical. I thought he was the key to keeping us in the ballgame and really setting the tone."
With each dunk, behind-the-back pass or wild-animal roar, it was if a collective: "Monta, who?" could be heard throughout the arena. Bogut, the centerpiece in a trade that sent Ellis, a fan favorite, to Milwaukee last season was on the receiving end of applause unrivaled during Ellis' reign as the team's marquee player.
Without David Lee, Bogut's continued emergence has come at the most opportune time for Golden State. And in the first half Sunday, it masked a statistical disappearance from Curry.
Curry sat for relatively long stretches before halftime, prompting questions about his ankle. He didn't hit a field goal until a 3-pointer at the 2:02 mark of the second quarter made it 52-44 Warriors. Curry took just three shots in the first half, but scored seven points, including a pair of trips to the free-throw line.
After a three from Klay Thompson gave Golden State a 15-point lead to open the scoring in the second half, Denver found its offensive rhythm. During that span, the Nuggets -- aided by four Warriors turnovers -- used a 14-3 run to put any Warrior blowout fantasies on the back burner.
Then, as he's had a tendency to do over the last week, Curry re-asserted himself as the series' best player.
Game 5: Tuesday, at Denver
The Warriors will try to end the series when it returns to Denver for Game 5 on Tuesday at 5 p.m. PT. Golden State ended Denver's 24-game home winning streak at the Pepsi Center on April 23 with a prolific shooting performance that included a .646 clip from the field.
It was the best shooting performance in the NBA playoffs since Utah (.651) was fractionally better in 1991.
Green the latest rookie to step up
In the final 11 games of the regular season, rookie Draymond Green scored a combined 13 points. In Sunday's win, Green matched that in 25 minutes to set a new career high.
He's the second Warriors rookie set a new career-high in points this series, following Harrison Barnes' 24 points in Game 2.
"What we're trying to do as rookies is bring energy," Green said. "You can have an off shooting night, maybe you get scored on, but one thing you can always do is bring energy."
With Green, that energy sometimes translates to yelling. And that yelling has a tendency to unnerve whatever opponent he's around, but Green said he doesn't think whatever it is he's saying is effecting the Nuggets much.
"It's not necessarily easy to get under their skin, but we've been on the slide throughout the year," Green said. "When you drop a couple games you're going to be on edge. Something goes wrong, you're confidence isn't high."
Conversely, Green's confidence hasn't been higher.
Jack remains an unannounced starter
For the third straight game, Jarrett Jack was not announced as a starter, but was in the game for tip-off.
Does he just not want his name announced?
"I don't know what's going on with that," Jack said. "I think they kind of know that I'm starting, but, hey, since we started doing things have been doing pretty good for us. So lets keep doing."
When asked what Jackson said to him before the first time the bit of gamesmanship was used, Jack kept a lid on it.
"That was a little internal thing," he said.
- Scott Machado made his debut with the Warriors after rejoining the team from NBA Development League affiliate Santa Cruz. He scored two points.
- Golden State finished 44-of-79 from the field (55.7%). It's the third straight game it finished about 50 percent, which is the longest such streak of the season.
- Curry is the first player in NBA history to have at least 19 threes in their first four career playoff games.
- Jarrett Jack scored 21 points, his third straight 20-plus point game.
- Golden State lost the rebounding battle, 37-29, for the first time in the series.
#WarriorsTalk Tweets of the Game
Bogut is playing like a beast among men #WarriorsTalk— JP (@FriscoFitted) April 29, 2013