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Andre Iguodala scored 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Tuesday as the Denver Nuggets held off Golden State 107-100 to sustain their hopes of reaching the second round of the NBA playoffs.
But Golden State coach Mark Jackson accused the Nuggets of deliberately trying to injure Warriors star Stephen Curry, raising the tensions in the Western Conference matchup.
The Nuggets pulled within 3-2 of the Warriors in the best-of-seven playoff series, which continues Thursday at Golden State. The series winner will face West top seed San Antonio in the second round of the playoffs.
"Tonight was a good fight for us," Iguodala said. "We've got to go back there and figure some things out."
Wilson Chandler and Ty Lawson added 19 points each for Denver, which had six double-digit scorers, while Harrison Barnes led the Warriors with 23 points, Jarrett Jack added 20 and Klay Thompson netted 19.
"They were the more physical team. They were the aggressor," Jackson said. "They hurt us in the first half. They scored in the paint. They made us pay for our turnovers. It wasn't magic. They outplayed us."
Curry scored only 15 points on 7-of-19 shooting and after the game, Jackson complained that the Nuggets were trying to hurt him on purpose.
"They tried to send hitmen on Steph," Jackson said. "There were some dirty plays early. We went up 3-1 (in the series) playing hard, physical, clean basketball -- not trying to hurt anybody."
Jackson said a screen set at the free throw line in the first half was a bid to hurt Curry's ankle and hinted that someone in the Nuggets' camp was telling him there was an intent to injure.
"I've got inside information," Jackson said. "Some people don't like that kind of basketball. Let everybody leave here healthy. That's not good basketball."
Iguodala said he felt he took the hardest hit in the series earlier when Australian center Andrew Bogut ran into him and added that the Warriors started the bumping in the series.
"They kind of brought the physicality to the series and we stopped being the receivers and started bringing some of that back," Iguodala said. "But as for the cheap shots, I don't condone that. That's not in my game."
Asked about the fouls, Golden State's Jack said only, "It felt like good defense. We're a battle-tested bunch. Nothing can get us out of our rhythm."
The Nuggets led by as much as 22 points in the second quarter on the way to a 66-46 half-time lead. The Warriors unleashed a 14-2 run in the third quarter but Denver answered with a 12-4 run to lead 86-69 entering the fourth quarter.
Undaunted, Golden State responded in the final period with an 18-4 spurt that pulled the Warriors within 96-91 before Kenneth Faried's slam dunk ended a drought of 4:20 without a basket from the field for the Nuggets.
Twice more the Warriors pulled within five points only to have Chandler connect on a 3-pointer from the right corner to give Denver a 103-95 lead.
After a Golden State free throw, Iguodala added a slam dunk and Denver held off the Warriors over the final seconds.
"We knew we were going to take a hit," Iguodala said. "We had to respond once they made their run. Tonight was a better defensive effort. To get to the next level our defensive mindset had to get better. It was there tonight."
Earlier in the day, Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari of Italy underwent an arthroscopic procedure to repair meniscus damage in his left knee after tearing a ligament in the same knee on April 4 to end his season.
Gallinari averaged 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 71 games.