Kenneth Faried brought the energy and the Denver Nuggets rediscovered their toughness in time to stave off elimination Tuesday night with a 107-100 win over the Golden State Warriors.
The Nuggets slowed down Golden State’s guards, jumpstarted their transition game and got under Andrew Bogut’s skin in Game 5, jumping out to a 22-point lead before weathering the Warriors’ frenetic fourth quarter rally.
Game 6 is Thursday night in Oakland. Golden State leads the series 3-2.
Andre Iguodala had 25 points and 12 rebounds, Ty Lawson had 19 points and 10 assists and Faried had 13 points and 10 boards.
Stephen Curry, whose 18 3-pointers were the most by any player in NBA history in the first four playoff games of his career, went ice cold, missing his first five 3-pointers before finally hitting with 5:09 left to pull Golden State to 96-91.
He finished 1 of 7 from long range and scored 15. Harrison Barnes led Golden State with 23 points and nine rebounds.
Faried responded to Curry’s sole 3-pointer with an alley-oop dunk, helping to settle down the Nuggets, who had much of their lead wither away during Golden State’s 11-0 run bookended by Klay Thompson’s jumpers early in the fourth quarter.
Curry and Thompson missed back-to-back 3s that would have made it a two-point game with less than two minutes left, and Wilson Chandler’s 3 seconds later at the other end made it 103-95. Chandler finished with 19 points.
Faried capped his night with an alley-oop dunk from Andre Miller before fouling out.
The Warriors never got closer than five points after Denver’s first-half blitz led by Faried.
Faried had seven points, eight boards and a big block in the first half as the Nuggets raced out to a 66-46 halftime lead by finally playing their brand of basketball to avoid, at least for now, another early exit from the playoffs.
The third-seeded Nuggets finally played in the postseason like they did in the regular season, when they were the league’s best transition team and piled up points in the paint on their way to an NBA franchise-most 57 wins.
And it was Faried to put his foot down 48 hours after his size-16 sneaker left a hole in the wall just inside the visiting locker room at Oracle Arena following the Nuggets’ third straight loss to the sixth-seeded Warriors.
After Denver lost three straight games, coach George Karl had pinned his hopes on a return to the Pepsi Center, where the Nuggets haven’t lost back-to-back games since Feb. 8-9, 2012.
The crowd had plenty to cheer about, but it was Faried who really brought the buzz back.
With the Faried setting the tone and hounding Bogut, the Nuggets raced out to a 36-22 lead with their best quarter of the series.
It was 44-31 when Bogut gave a two-handed shove to Faried’s neck, sending him falling out of bounds underneath the basket. Bogut was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul and Faried made one of two free throws before Miller’s subsequent layup.
Bogut missed at the other end, Faried got the board and then the rim-rattling slam at the other end to make it 49-31 and force Golden State to call timeout.
Faried followed his arena-shaking rejection of Jack’s shot with another bucket to make it 55-38.
In the second half, rookie Draymond Green was whistled for a flagrant foul on Faried.
Bogut finished with two points and five rebounds in 18 minutes, his worst showing of the series.
Nursing a puffy right eye and a sprained left ankle, Curry got off to a rough start, missing six of his nine first-half shots. He also was called for travelling while trying to draw the foul on Andre Iguodala on a 3-point try in the final second of the first quarter.
The Nuggets will now try to win in Oakland to bring the series back to Denver for a decisive Game 7.
Notes: The Warriors are 6-19 without Lee over the last three years but 3-1 in the playoffs minus the league’s leader this season in double-doubles. ... Faried, who was raised by lesbian mothers and was an outspoken advocate for Colorado’s civil unions bill this year, said he was thrilled to hear Jason Collins revelation that he’s gay. Faried said, “I think more athletes will come out. ... I’m happy for Jason Collins. I’m happy for my mom. I’m going to support every other gay person in this world until I die