Curry breaks record, Warriors open playoffs in Denver
The Warriors went 1-3 against Denver this season, with the last meeting back on Jan. 13. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Golden State held onto the No. 6 seed and Stephen Curry broke the single-season three-point record in a 99-88 win at Portland to close out the regular season.
The Warriors will now turn their attention to the Rocky Mountain State.
No. 6-seeded Golden State (47-35) will begin the playoffs at No. 3 Denver (57-25) on Saturday at 2:30 PT. The Nuggets beat Phoenix 118-98 on Wednesday to setup the first-round series.
"Coach (Mark) Jackson has done a great job of motivating us and getting us line with his identity and what he wants us to do," Curry said. "It started last year. We had a rough season, but we understood we had the pieces to comeback and make this reality happen."
Golden State was the most improved team in the Western Conference this year (plus-24 wins) and second to only Brooklyn in the NBA. The Warriors have daunting task starting the postseason at Denver. The Nuggers went an NBA-best 38-3 at home this season and take a 22-game home winning streak into the postseason. Denver hasn't lost at the Pepsi Center since Jan. 18, when it fell 112-108 to Washington. Its coach, George Karl, was the last coach other than Don Nelson (five times) to take Golden State to the playoffs when he did it in the 1986-87 season.
After taking a 50-36 lead into halftime, the Warriors nearly gave all of it back in the third quarter. The Trail Blazers went on a 19-9 run over the final 7:52 to make it a three-point game going into the fourth.
Portland cut the deficit to three on a pair of occasions in the fourth quarter, but Golden State didn't trail by fewer than five over the final 6:31 and pulled away late.
Curry hit record-breaking No. 270 at the 6:48 mark of the second quarter -- a number of which carried unknown significance to him when the season began.
"I didn't know what the number was up until about a month ago, "Curry said. "Someone mentioned if I averaged 'this amount of three for the rest of the season,' I'd have a shot."
He scored 15 points and finished the game 5-for-16 from the field and 4-of-11 from deep. His three with 3:38 made it 91-77 Warriors, at which point Jackson sat him down.
Curry ends the year 272-589 (45.3 percent) from deep, behind only Detroit's Jose Calderon (130-282, .461) and Atlanta's Kyle Korver (189-414, .457) in accuracy.
"It's a total team record," Jackson said. "Obviously, a reflection of Steph's greatness, but it's a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication, commitment and guys getting him open and executing plays.
"Collectively, they celebrated it. He's a special guy and it was well-deserved." Teammate Klay Thompson chased New Orleans' Ryan Anderson for second in the NBA in threes, but finished two shy of Anderson with 211 on the year. He was 5-of-7 against Portland before leaving with an ankle injury. Thompson did not play the final 6:05 and the seriousness of the injury remains unclear.
Thompson scored 24 points to lead the Warriors.
With 20 points and 10 rebounds, all-star David Lee extended his NBA-leading double-double total to 56. He is the first Warrior since Wilt Chamberlain in 1963-64 to lead the league in that category.
After sitting out the last two games with an ankle injury, Andrew Bogut started and played 17 minutes. He score two points and had eight rebounds.
"It's a bonus, I didn't need to see it," Jackson said. "We have time to prepare so most importantly, I want him out there. It was good to see him healthy and moving well."
Golden State's last trip to the playoffs came in the 2006-07 season, when the 'We Believe' team upset top-seeded Dallas in the first-round.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 30 points and had 21 rebounds for Portland (33-49), which lost its last 13 games of the season.
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Western Conference Playoffs
No. 1 Oklahoma City (60-22) vs. No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers (44-38).
No. 2 San Antonio (58-24) vs. No. 7 Houston (46-36)
No. 3 Denver (57-25) vs. Warriors (47-35)
No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers (56-26) vs No. 5 Memphis (56-26)