DENVER (AP) – Andre Miller didn’t even wait for the final horn to sound before trudging off the court.
The Denver Nuggets guard was far from alone as many of the fans bolted the Pepsi Center early, too. They had seen quite enough of Stephen Curry & Co. making shot after shot as the Nuggets were humbled at home for the first time in three months.
Behind blistering shooting, Golden State beat the NBA’s best home team 131-117 in Game 2 on Tuesday night and pulled even in the best-of-seven series.
Curry couldn’t miss, Harrison Barnes dazzled with a reverse dunk and the Nuggets couldn’t stop anyone as the Warriors shot 64.6 percent from the field (51 of 79), their best mark ever in a postseason game.
”We didn’t do much of anything very well,” said coach George Karl, whose team was 38-3 at home during the regular season.
The series shifts to Golden State for Game 3 on Friday night.
And the Nuggets know they have work to do.
After all, the Warriors’ pick-and-roll completely picked apart Denver. Curry led the way with 30 points and 13 assists. That’s even with him turning his left ankle late in the third quarter, which hardly slowed him down.
When Curry wasn’t doing the damage, Jarrett Jack, who made a rare start in place of the injured David Lee, took control as he scored 26 points. Barnes added 24 – including a thunderous dunk over Anthony Randolph in the fourth quarter – and Klay Thompson chipped in 21.
That’s a lot of scoring options to defend.
”Man, they were just knocking it down,” said Ty Lawson, who along with reserve Corey Brewer scored 19 points for the Nuggets. “The game plan was to keep the ball out of Stephen Curry’s hands, but he came off and had open looks and then he started finding people. After that, we started scrambling. We can’t play like that.”
Putting the Nuggets on their heels was precisely Curry’s plan. With two days off between games, Curry had a lot of time at the hotel to think about his performance in Game 1. Sure, he finished with 19 points, but he hit just 7 of 20 shots.
The speedy guard vowed to be more aggressive – and he certainly was at that. Nothing the Nuggets did could knock him off rhythm as he finished 13 of 23 from the field.
”They were setting the screen and changing the angle of the screen (for Curry),” Karl explained. “Our big guy was getting caught on the wrong side. In Game 1, we kept him where we wanted him to be. Tonight, we didn’t direct him at all.
”The ball was free and loose on every possession. They didn’t have one guy who didn’t shoot the ball. Everybody who got loose made the shot.”
The third-seeded Nuggets needed Miller’s last-second shot to beat Golden State by a basket in the opener and extend their franchise-best winning streak to 24 games.
Golden State became the second road team to win the postseason following Chicago’s win at Brooklyn on Monday.
With the Warriors losing Lee, their All-Star forward, to a torn hip flexor and the Nuggets getting top rebounder and energizer Kenneth Faried back from a sprained ankle, this one looked like a mismatch.
And it was, just not the way the capacity crowd anticipated. They waved their powder blue towels in earnest at the start, but didn’t have anything to cheer at the end.
Golden State coach Mark Jackson kept who would start in place of Lee a secret until game time. In the end, he went with a smaller lineup as Jack stepped in. Jack joked that he’s been working on his low-post moves, just in case they were needed.
”I just tried to come out and be aggressive, making plays,” Jack said. “We established ourselves early on and it was a team effort from there.”
Although the Nuggets had Faried back, the spirited forward looked rusty from the layoff. He’s been out for nine days with a sprained left ankle. He only grabbed two rebounds and scored just four points in 21 minutes.
Faried was supposed to help on the boards, too, but for a second straight game the Nuggets were outrebounded. The Warriors also had more fast-break points (14-8), a category the Nuggets typically dominate.
”Their running game is as effective as ours,” Karl said.
The underdog Warriors stole a win at the toughest place in the league to play. Now, the Nuggets are looking to regroup.
”It’s a chess match throughout the series,” said Andre Iguodala, who scored 12 of his 18 points in the first quarter. “We’re going to make some adjustments, figure out the mistakes we made and try to get them right.
”It’s our turn to go out there and try to do the same thing – if not get two.”
Notes: Karl has been exchanging texts with former assistant Mike Dunlap, who was fired as head coach of Charlotte on Tuesday after going 21-61 in his only season with the Bobcats. “I hear he’s on his way to Hawaii, which I would recommend he go there and maybe spend an extra week,” Karl said. … With Lakers All-Star Kobe Bryant live tweeting during games, Karl was asked how he would feel if Danilo Gallinari, who’s out with an ACL injury, posted comments as the Nuggets played. “It’s a world that I don’t know too much about,” Karl said. “My life is too full right now. I don’t need anymore.” … The Nuggets allowed Golden State to hit 14 3-pointers, a new playoff high. … Denver’s 26 rebounds is a playoff low.
By PAT GRAHAM
AP Sports Writer