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NBA: Warriors hold off Nuggets to reach second round

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Golden State Warriors squandered an 18-point fourth-quarter lead but held on to beat the Denver Nuggets 92-88 on Thursday to reach the second round of the NBA playoffs.

Stephen Curry scored 14 of his 22 points in a crucial third-quarter surge and Golden State survived some sloppy play in the final period to win the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series four-games-to-two.

Australian NBA veteran Andrew Bogut, who battled ankle pain through much of the season, contributed 14 points and 21 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Warriors, who next face the West's second-seeded San Antonio Spurs.

The veteran Spurs ousted the injury-depleted Los Angeles Lakers in four games.

"It was a big win for us. Hopefully we can keep rolling," said Bogut after the Warriors -- in the playoffs for the first time since 2007 -- nearly let the contest slip away.

The Warriors took control in the third quarter, Curry draining two three-pointers in a 10-0 scoring run that gave Golden State a 50-44 lead.

The hosts took a 73-62 lead into the fourth and scored the first seven points in the period to build an 80-62 margin with 9:11 to play.

But 10 Golden State turnovers in the final quarter helped the Nuggets battle back. Andre Iguodala's three-pointer for Denver trimmed the deficit to 82-78 with 4:14 to play.

Another Iguodala three-pointer pulled the Nuggets within three points with 1:02 remaining, and Kenneth Faried made it 90-88 when he made one of two from the free-throw line with 32.4 seconds left.

A turnover off an inbounds pass -- Golden State's 10th turnover in the quarter -- gave Wilson Chandler a chance to score but his shot bounced off the rim and his attempt to tip it back in failed.

Golden State's Jarrett Jack sank the clinching free throws for the final margin with 7.3 seconds left.

"We did everything we could to let them back in the game," Curry said. "That won't happen again. We escaped tonight. We'll learn from it. That won't happen again."

Draymond Green contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds for Golden State, including six key points after the Nuggets made things interesting in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets, who won 57 games in the regular season to earn the third seed in the Western Conference, lost all three games of the series in Oakland to bow out in the first round.

Iguodala led the Nuggets with 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Ty Lawson added 17 points. Chandler scored 11 points but connected on just 5-of-17 from the floor.

Golden State's All-Star forward David Lee, expected to miss all of the playoffs after tearing his right hip flexor in the opening game of the series, made a brief appearance in the first quarter.

He energized the crowd and his teammates, but it wasn't clear if he would play against the Spurs.

"It's been torture sitting over there having to watch, especially when we lost game five," Lee said. "It's no fun, but I felt I could go out and energize the crowd. I thought I could help the team."

The victory took the sting out of the $25,000 fine levied by the NBA against Warriors head coach Mark Jackson earlier Thursday, for comments that the league deemed "an attempt to influence the officiating" of the series.

After the Warriors fell to Denver in game five on Tuesday -- missing out on a chance to close out the series -- Jackson accused the Nuggets of deliberately trying to injure Curry.

bb/rcw

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130503/nba-warriors-hold-nuggets-reach-second-round-0