The Golden State Warriors became the first National Basketball Association team this postseason to wrap up a playoff series at home, and the Brooklyn Nets won on the road to force a decisive Game 7 tomorrow against Chicago.
Stephen Curry had 14 of his 22 points in the third quarter as the Warriors defeated the Denver Nuggets 92-88 to complete a four-games-to-two series victory and advance to face the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference’s second round.
Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson scored 17 points apiece as the Nets won 95-92 to tie their series 3-3 against the Bulls. The Nets are trying to become the ninth team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.
“Most people would have counted us out being down 3-1,” reserve center Andray Blatche, who scored Brooklyn’s final five points, told reporters. “Now that it’s tied up, we have to go out with the same hunger, the same attitude, finish this off.”
Tonight, the New York Knicks try for the third straight game to finish off the host Boston Celtics in their first-round series. The Knicks, who lead 3-2 as they attempt to win their first playoff series since 2000, have lost two straight games after winning the first three games of the series.
Also tonight, the Memphis Grizzlies are at home with a 3-2 edge as they try to finish off the Los Angeles Clippers; the host Atlanta Hawks try to extend their series with the Indiana Pacers to a decisive Game 7, and the Oklahoma City Thunder try to complete a series win against the host Houston Rockets after losing the past two games.
Golden State will be playing in the second round of the playoffs for the second time in 22 years. Game 1 of the Warriors-Spurs series is set for May 6 in San Antonio.
Curry had eight straight points, including consecutive 3-pointers, as the Warriors took the lead for good early in the third quarter and built the margin to as many as 18 points in the fourth period before surviving a late Denver rally.
The Nuggets used a 13-0 run to whittle the margin to five points and got within two points in the final minute as the Warriors missed shots and committed 10 turnovers in the final period.
“God has a sense of humor, because he wanted to show folks at the end as we threw the ball all over the place,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said in a news conference. “It’s only a miracle that we advanced.”
Andrew Bogut had 14 points and 21 rebounds for the Warriors, who got a cameo appearance from All-Star forward David Lee -- who played one minute in his return to the court after hurting his hip in the opening game of the series.
Jackson, who played guard for the Knicks in 1987-92 and 2000-02, said his decision to play Lee was in part homage to Hall of Famer Willis Reed, who limped onto the court and hit two baskets for the Knicks early in Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I guess the New York City in me, the Willis Reed impact as a kid, really played a role,” the Warriors coach told reporters. “Not only did I put him in, but I ran a play for him for a shot, just about where Willis hit his shot.”
The seventh game in the Bulls-Nets series will be tomorrow at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The Nets are trying to become the first team to fall behind 3-1 and then win a series since the 2006 Phoenix Suns against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Joakim Noah had 14 points and 15 rebounds for Chicago, which was led by Marco Belinelli’s 22 points.
The Bulls, who have played all season without point guard Derrick Rose, also were missing guard Kirk Hinrich and forward Luol Deng last night. Hinrich has missed the past two games with a bruised left calf and Deng was sick for the game in Chicago.
The Nets-Bulls winner will advance to play the defending champion Miami Heat, who swept past the Milwaukee Bucks four games to none in their first-round series after posting the NBA’s best record this season.
The Bulls joined the Knicks and Thunder in failing to close out a first-round series with a win at home. Less than three hours later, the Warriors accomplished that feat by beating Denver at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.