The Golden State Warriors don't make the NBA Playoffs very often, but when they do it's spectacular. It wasn't quite the miracle We Believe run from 2007, but Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut lifted the Warriors to a thrilling Game 6 win at ORACLE Arena and eliminated the Denver Nuggets from the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Meanwhile, the banged up Bulls couldn't catch a break in Chicago, and the Brooklyn Nets did just enough to force a winner-take-all Game 7 in that series. Here's a rundown of the NBA playoff action from Thursday night.
Warriors 92, Nuggets 88 (Golden State wins series, 4-2)
Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green stepped up on a night when both teams had trouble hitting shots, and the Golden State Warriors knocked the Denver Nuggets out of the postseason in dramatic fashion. Curry scored 22 points, hit some big threes and dished out a game-high eight assists to keep Golden State's offense afloat, while Bogut (14 points, 21 rebounds) and Green (16 points, 10 rebounds) chipped in double-doubles in the decisive Game 6 win. The Warriors got the win, but it wasn't always a sure thing.
The Nuggets made a late comeback fueled by huge plays from Andre Iguodala (24 points, nine rebounds, six assists). He hit a series of threes and forced several stops in the final period to keep things dangerously close. Golden State committed a whopping ten fourth-quarter turnovers to bleed away their big lead, and two free throws from Kenneth Faried pulled the Nuggets to within two points with just 32.4 seconds remaining. Things got a bit crazy from there.
Nate Timmons of Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs was disappointed that the series didn't get extended to seven games, and after the loss he wasn't shy about calling out a few crucial mistakes by the referees that changed the complexion of the game down the stretch:
In such a tight game it was a shame the referees had any sort of role in the contest. The Warriors finished with more free throw attempts than Denver: 23-24 vs. 13-21 despite being a primarily jump shooting team compared to Denver's aggressive attack. The refs were magnified as they absolutely blew a call when Draymond Green went flying into a planted (and not in the restricted zone) JaVale McGee at the 3:55 mark. Denver was on a roll and that play not only wiped out some momentum, but it sent Green to the line instead of giving Denver the ball back with the score sitting at 82-78 before the free throws. Instead Green hits both and it's 84-78 instead of Denver being able to perhaps get it down to a single possession game.
Yes, I sound like a hack for drawing attention to a foul call, but it was such an obvious charge that the ref standing right there should have easily made the right one. And then with 0:12 second left the craziest play occurred. Chandler missed the runner and he typically follows that shot with a make, but he missed the putback. The ball was hit by either Carl Landry or Chandler and heads to the baseline, Brewer seemed to save it to Faried for an open dunk ... tie game 90-90 with just 0:11 seconds to go ... nope ... the ball was called out of bounds on the bounce before Brewer got to it ...
SB Nation NBA covered that end line call with Brewer very closely, and here's how the finer details looked upon replay:
In the end, it wasn't the officiating that doomed the Nuggets. It was the 34.7 percent shooting, 7/28 accuracy from beyond the arc, 21/53 shooting in the paint, a few steps taken too far away from Steph Curry too many times and a 20-7 disparity in fast break points that favored the Warriors. Golden State earned their series win on Thursday night, even if they tried to fumble it away in the final six minutes.
Now Golden State will prepare for a series against the San Antonio Spurs, who have made things tough for the Warriors over the years.
Nets 95, Bulls 92 (Series tied, 3-3)
The Chicago Bulls played without Luol Deng (illness), Kirk Hinrich (calf) and Derrick Rose on Thursday night in Game 6, so it's no surprise that they lost. However, it was a bit curious to see how close Brooklyn let things get in such a big game. Marco Belinelli (22 points), Nate Robinson (18) and Carlos Boozer (17) scraped together some respectable offense and kept the Bulls close enough to have a few chances to send the contest to overtime, but in the end the Nets escaped with the win.
Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez each scored 17 points to pace Brooklyn's attack, and they did just enough to avoid what would have been an otherwise embarrassing elimination. Tom Lorenzo of NetsDaily wasn't exactly proud of the effort by Brooklyn, but was happy that they got the job done and forced a Game 7 in the series:
The Bulls entered tonight with a number of injuries and illness, but really, who isn't injured these days? Chicago was without Luol Deng (illness) and Kirk Hinrich (calf), so advantage Brooklyn, right? Well, considering Marco Belinelli filled in for Deng and played an excellent game -- 22 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds -- the Nets couldn't put the Bulls away as they should have.
The Bulls would not go away in this one, a game where they probably shouldn't have even been in -- considering all the injuries and illnesses surrounding the team.
In the end, the Nets pulled it off, 95-92. But, again, it wasn't pretty -- at least not in the second half.
Game 7 will be on Saturday in Brooklyn. Yes, anything is possible.
The Bulls and Nets will meet one more time this season, and the stakes couldn't be any higher. Our first Game 7 of the 2013 NBA Playoffs is officially on the schedule.