Nuggets beat Warriors 124-120
OAKLAND, Calif. ” Shots were flying, both teams were running and defense appeared to be an afterthought for long stretches of the game.
If that appears to be the type of game that a great open-court player like Allen Iverson would prefer, think again. Even Iverson would have liked a few more walk-it-up-the court possessions than there were in Denver’s 124-120 victory over Golden State on Friday night.
“No, it’s not fun playing them,” Iverson said. “I don’t know why you all think it would be fun. It’s fun for the fans, but it’s not fun for the guys trying to defend the way they play. They just keep coming at you all game.”
Iverson performed just fine playing at the Warriors’ preferred frenetic pace, scoring 39 points, including a late jumper that gave the Nuggets the lead for good. Carmelo Anthony added 30 to help Denver win the fast-paced, offensive showcase everyone expected when two of the NBA’s top three scoring teams face off.
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“I like to run up and down the court, but they make it outrageous,” Iverson said. “They might run even too much for me, especially on the defensive end. It has to be fun to play that style, but to defend it isn’t too nice.”
Stephen Jackson matched his season high with 32 points despite shooting 9-for-27, and Baron Davis added 29 points and 13 assists for the Warriors, but they couldn’t quite match the performance from Denver’s dynamic duo and lost for the second time in six games.
With both teams preferring an up-tempo style that features quick shots and plenty of fast breaks, Denver hit the 100-point mark on Linas Kleiza’s 3-pointer with 1:32 remaining in the third quarter.
Don Nelson’s Warriors nearly hit the century mark before the fourth quarter as well, settling for 97 after Jackson hit a 3-pointer that beat the third-quarter buzzer. Davis’ 3-pointer on the opening possession of the fourth cut Denver’s lead to 102-100.
“They’re wild and crazy,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “That’s how they play. I like it because I think sometimes the basketball world thinks you can only play one way. There’s a lot of ways to play in basketball and Nellie is one of the best at innovating a style that fits his team. We’re a little wild and crazy, too.”
The Warriors, who trailed by 11 points early, kept fighting back but never led after the first quarter. They made their final charge after falling behind by six with less than 3 minutes to go. Davis fed Andris Biedrins for a layup, blocked Anthony’s shot to set up a fast-break basket by Monta Ellis and then scored inside to tie it at 118.
Iverson then hit a pull-up jumper to put Denver back in front for good at 120-118 with 1:12 remaining. Anthony Carter stole a pass from Davis at the other end, leading to a pair of free throws by Anthony that made it a four-point game with 53 seconds remaining.
Davis hit a tough shot at the other end and then Golden State forced Anthony into a miss as the shot clock expired, giving the Warriors one last chance with 21 seconds remaining. But Jackson missed a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining.
“My team relied on me to win tonight and I didn’t play well,” Jackson said. “Point blank I’ve got to shoot better. We have to work too hard and I’ve got to play a lot better and the shots I take I’ve got to shoot better.”
Marcus Camby hit two free throws to make it a four-point game. Camby finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds.
“I thought this would be a game where you pretty much throw the defense out the door, which was pretty much the case,” Camby said. “Both teams were pretty much scoring at will. It came down to whoever made plays down the stretch.”
The difference turned out to be Denver’s ability to get to the foul line in the fourth quarter and Golden State losing its outside shooting touch. Iverson made nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter as Denver shot 14-of-16 to thwart any comeback attempt by Golden State.
The Warriors missed eight of their final nine 3-point attempts after their long-range shooting kept them in the game early when they made 13 of their first 27 attempts.
Denver managed to come within one point of matching its season high despite having only 13 assists on the night. It’s only the second time this decade a team has scored at least 120 points with so few assists.
“Obviously we couldn’t control their two best players,” Nelson said. “When they score 124 points and only have 13 assists, that tells you that they are doing a lot of one-on-one stuff and the greatness of those two players made it very difficult for us.”
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