DENVER (AP) - David Lee went from Golden State’s All-Star power forward and double-double machine to the Warriors’ biggest cheerleader and strategic adviser during timeouts.
Mostly, though, he just sat back and enjoyed the show Tuesday night when the Warriors stunned the Denver Nuggets 131-117 to even their playoff series at a game each.
The Warriors hardly missed much of anything. Not many of their shots, and not even their injured All-Star, who is out for the rest of the playoffs with a torn right hip flexor.
The Warriors also got 26 points from surprise starter Jarrett Jack, a career-high 24 from rookie Harrison Barnes in his debut at power forward and 21 from Klay Thompson.
Most importantly, the sixth-seeded Warriors, who became the second road team to win in the postseason following Chicago’s victory at Brooklyn on Monday, wrested home-court advantage from the NBA’s best home team.
“They were knocking down shots,” Denver’s Andre Iguodala said.
That’s an understatement. They were knocking them down better than they ever had before in a playoff game, a franchise playoff-record 64.6 percent from the field (51 of 79).
Every one of the nine Warriors who took at least a shot made better than half of them.
“Man, they were knocking it down,” Ty Lawson marveled.
“We are a very good shooting basketball team,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. “We’ve got guys that can knock down shots. You talk about Klay Thompson and Steph Curry, in my opinion, they’re the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game.”
The third-seeded Nuggets were an NBA-best 38-3 at home during the regular season but needed Andre Miller’s last-second shot to beat Golden State by a basket in the opener and extend their franchise-best winning streak to 24 games.
With Golden State losing Lee to a torn hip flexor and the Nuggets getting top rebounder and energizer Kenneth Faried back from a sprained ankle, this one looked like a mismatch, even Curry acknowledged.
And it was, only not the way the Pepsi Center crowd anticipated.
“We’re a resilient team, said that all year. When guys go down, other guys step up,” said Curry, who played through a tender left ankle after turning it late in the third quarter. “We showed that tonight. Big road win for us. We’ve got to go home and protect our homecourt.”