NBA: Nuggets survive, Memphis wins third straight


Draymond Green (r) swings a bit high and ends up getting called for a flagrant one against Kenneth Faried.

After winning their first game with the Golden State Warriors in the opening round of the NBA playoffs, the Denver Nuggets lost three straight and were facing elimination on Tuesday night. After building a 20-point lead at the half, they held on despite a strong fourth quarter from the Warriors to take their series to 3-2 in favor of Golden State. The Warriors will try to wrap things up in Oakland on Thursday. In Los Angeles, the Clippers found themselves a game away from their season being over after losing their third straight to the Grizzlies. Game 6 returns to Memphis on Friday.

Denver Nuggets – Golden State Warriors, 100:107
The Nuggets got things back on track Tuesday and put a stop to the Warriors three-game series win streak to bring the series to 3-2. Denver got out to a huge lead in the first half and just had to hold on in the second half to get the win.

Denver Coach Mark Jackson accused Golden State of taking cheap shots at his club, especially the injured Stephen Curry…

The screen on Curry, by the foul line, it was a shot at his ankle, clearly. That can’t be debated. I’ve got inside information that some people don’t like that brand of basketball and they clearly didn’t co-sign it. They wanted to let me know they have no part in what was taking place. Let the best team win. Let everybody, with the exception of going down with a freak injury, let everybody leave out of here healthy. That’s not good basketball.

Curry was held to 15 points after averaging 27.2 for the first four games.

For their part, the Warriors say their just playing basketball…

They’ve been hitting me and pushing me and shoving me the whole series. I’ve been hit in the throat, got my hair pulled a couple of times. And I don’t say much. I just keep going. I might say, ‘Yo, ref, what about this play or that play,’ and they don’t really say anything. But, hey, when we do it we’re playing dirty.
— Kenneth Faried, Golden State forward.

The Nuggets opened up with an effective dual attack of Wilson Chandler and Ty Lawson dropping in threes and jumpers and JaVale McGee and Andre Iguodala getting busy in the paint with lay-ups, dunks and put-backs. At the end of the first 12 Denver had given the 19,000 friendlies that showed up to the Pepsi Center in Denver for Game 5 plenty to cheer about, getting out front 36:22. They didn’t let up in the second and put another six on the margin after a 30:24 scoring gap in the second half, bringing the teams into the dressing rooms at the intermission with the score 66:46.

The third quarter featured two substantial scoring runs that basically canceled each other out. Jarrett Jack got the Warriors on the comeback trail with two jumpers and then a three-ball from Harrison Barnes. Draymond Green hit a triple, Curry dropped in a jumper and Jack finished what he started with another triple to give Golden State a 2:14 run that cut their deficit to nine, 74:65. Shortly after Jack’s long-ball fell through, Denver’s Corey Brewer was fouled by Green and hit a pair of singles. Iguodala knocked down a three-ball, Kosta Koufos threw down a dunk, Iguodala connected on a smooth reverse layup and Lawson sliced the cords from behind the arc for 12th unanswered point to give the Nuggets an 86:65 margin again. Klay Thomson closed out the scoring in the third for the Warriors with a three-pointer that brought the score to 86:69.

Things got interesting in the final 12… With less than a minute ticked off in the frame, Green got whistled for a flagrant type 1 foul on Faried, who hit the free throws, but the Nuggets couldn’t connect for more points when they were also given the ball back. Shortly after, Golden State started closing in on the Denver, going from down 19 to down 5 with an 4:18 run. At the two minute mark they were still down five, 100:95, after a Thompson turnaround jumper, but from that point on the Warriors would have to settle for all free throws, while Denver got another triple from Chandler, a dunk by Iguodala and a Miller-assisted alley-oop by Faried to put the Nuggets up nine with 30 seconds left.

Iguodala was game-high for Denver with 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists. Lawson added 19 points and 10 assists, Chandler also had 19 points, Faried scored 13 and grabbed 10 rebounds, Miller added 11 points and 5 assists, and McGee contributed 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Barnes led Golden State with 23 points and 9 rebounds, Jack added 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Thompson scored 19 and hauled in 5 rebounds, Curry dropped in 16 points and dished 8 assists.

Memphis Grizzlies – Los Angeles Clippers, 103:93


Memphis’ Mike Conley (11) goes up for a pair against DeAndre Jordan (6).

The Grizzlies picked up their third win in a row after the Clippers opened their best-of-seven series with the first two wins. With the win in Los Angeles, Memphis takes a 3-2 lead into Game 6, which will be played in Memphis on Friday. Should a Game 7 be necessary, they’ll head back to LA for a Sunday tip-off.

The Clippers Chris Paul took control of his club early and ended the contest with 35 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals. That would normally be tought to beat, when Blake Griffin’s numbers would be added in. Unfortunately, Griffin rolled his ankle in practice on Monday and was hobbled enough to throw him off his game while on the court, so much so he only tallied 4 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists on the night, before leaving the game with just over five minutes left to play in the third quarter. Paul was basically on his own, while the Grizzlies were running with a full head of steam. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol again controlled the paint, combining for 46 points and 19 rebounds.

This was a close contest, with the exception of the second quarter, where the Grizzlies outscored LA 20:28. The Clippers opened the game winning the first frame 28:26 and the clubs battled to the mid-way point and Paul knocked down a triple, followed by a Tayshaun Price jumper for Memphis. Jamal Crawford countered for LA with a three-ball giving the Clippers a 40:38 advantage. Over the next three minutes the Grizzlies would hit six of seven free throws, the last being the ‘and one’ to a layup by Gasol that would be the end of an 0:8 run giving Memphis the lead at 40:46. The rest of the frame would be basket trading, sending them to the intermission with Memphis up 48:54.

Coming out after the break the Clippers tallied the first four to cut the lead to two, 52:54, but then Memphis ran off 11 unanswered to get up by 13, 52:65. LA accounted for the next six to get them within seven again with five minutes to play. Paul hit a pair of singles with 4.3 seconds left to get the Clippers up eight, but then Jerryd Bayless went coast-to-coast and finished with a finger-roll that left his hand a fraction of a second before the lights went off ending the quarter, putting Memphis up eight, 65:73.

LA would tallied the first four again in the fourth, but that’s as close as they would get as the Grizzlies extended to six, then eventually 10, where the score was at the final horn, 93:103.

Randolph scored a double/double with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Gasol added 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. Mike Conley tallied 20 points and 6 assists. Prince dropped in 15.

Paul’s 35 was game-high and tied his personal best for points in a playoff game. Crawford added 15.

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