SAN FRANCISCO – Finally back in the starting lineup, Stephen Curry took over and brought his team back just as he did so many times during Golden State’s deep post-season runs.
Curry scored 30 points in his return to the starting five and the Warriors beat Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets 102-98 on Wednesday night to end their first-round series in five games.
Curry scored 11 points in the fourth quarter after the Warriors started the last 12 minutes with eight backs. The two-time MVP switched a three-point game with 1:33 left and scored again with 29 seconds left to help send the Warriors to the second round of the Western Conference.
“I was a witness, made him cook, created plays for him. “Try to get him open-minded and then you know what he’s doing,” said Warriors guard Gary Payton II.
Jokic scored 12 of his 30 points in the final 3:46 and finished with 19 rebounds and eight assists.
The Warriors – who thrive on supporting their turbulent home crowd in their first playoff game at Chase Center – have advanced to play the winner of the Memphis-Minnesota Series, which was led 3-2 by the Grizzlies, who play Friday in Game 6 in Minneapolis was on his way. . The Grizzlies eliminated Golden State in the playoffs last year.
Jokic tied it at 90 on an 18-footer with 2:26 left before Payton made a tackle moments later. Payton also hit a 3-pointer lead from the corner in front of Denver’s bench with 6:57 left to put Golden State ahead 86-84. He finished with 15 points.
“He was incredible, both sides of the floor, big shots, big plays,” teammate Draymond Green said.
Payton got his dad, Gary Payton, to the last buzz just for a quick hello.
Jokic converted two free throws with 3:46 left after Green’s offense that the Golden State’s defensive star wanted called on the 7-footer. Jokic got 12 for 18 off the floor. DeMarcus Cousins contributed 19 points off the bench against his former Golden State team, and Aaron Gordon added 15 points and nine rebounds.
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Denver made seven of its first 10 shots after halftime to turn a 48-yard tie into a 66-56 lead. Curry’s 3 with 4:06 left pulled the Warriors to 68-67.
Curry shot 10 of 22 with five 3-pointers. He came off the bench in the first four games, with the series starting a month after spraining a ligament in his left foot on March 16 against Boston.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr went small with Curry, Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson when Kevon Looney came off the bench. Thompson had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Kerr challenged the Warriors to “be back to be us.” They conceded 30 points from 15 innings and committed 27 fouls resulting in 36 free throws for Denver in a 126-121 road loss Sunday.
GREEN’S D: Green was whistled for 20 seconds in the game for his first offense, much like Game 4 when he violated 40 seconds in the first quarter.
Green had 11 points and six assists. His three blocked shots moved him past Kevin Garnett for 22nd on the NBA’s career post-season list.
“I feel he was built for the playoffs,” Kerr said. “That’s what he’s about, when you can actually put the energy he’s exerting and the competitive force and get a day off the next day and not have three games in five nights in every city.”
After the game, Green found Jokic for a word.
“I told him, ‘Thank you for making me better,'” Green said. “It’s an honor to play against someone so talented, so skilled.”
TIP: Nuggets – Austin Rivers left late in the first room with stiffness in his right thigh muscle. … Denver shot 3-of-14 from deep into the first half and 6-of-29 overall. … Jokic had 10 rebounds in his initial 11 minutes.
Warriors – Curry (3,108) overtook Julius Erving (3,088) for 24th place on the NBA playoffs. … The Warriors have been 12-3 in Game 5s since winning the 2015 franchise’s first title in 40 years. … Golden State was held under 50% shooting for the first time in five games.