Warriors Have Taken Nuggets’ Heart

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OAKLAND, Calif. – Yes, Stephen Curry. Of course Stephen Curry. This time, it was with 22 points in his forever third quarter and 31 points, seven assists against two turnovers in all. And he had the help of Andrew Bogut, he of the surge out of the blocks in Game 4 and the snarling attitude every day.

But this first-round upset in the making became about heart sometime in the second half Sunday night, and that’s more surprising than anything Curry tossed in during Game 4. The Nuggets mostly stopped showing any. That’s the thing: he Warriors did their part, shot by shot, but Denver is playing like an underdog on its heels, like a team lacking confidence, and proving once again it is impossible to win a game in the fetal position.

Denver is on the brink of elimination, trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series after Golden State’s 115-101 victory at Oracle Arena behind the latest Curry showcase, which would be surprising enough. But these are the Nuggets admitting confidence lost, which is more like impossible.

This group – Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, Andre Miller, Corey Brewer, Kosta Koufos, Danilo Gallinari (when he was healthy), and certainly coach George Karl – has always handled adversity. They were relegated to rebuilding mode after trading Carmelo Anthony in February 2011 … yet they still made the playoffs. They were dismissed as a sparring partner for the Lakers in the 2012 first round … yet they pushed L.A. to seven games after falling down 0-2.

The pall is unmistakable this time, though. The Nuggets may have stood up to the bigger, more-experienced, heavily-favored Lakers a year ago, but the underdog Warriors needed four games to break Denver’s spirit.

“They’re hitting big shots,” Lawson said. “They’re hitting crazy 3s, 3s from behind the arc. I can see a couple faces just looking down like, ‘Man, they hit another one.’ But we’ve just got to keep fighting. Keep fighting and just realize who we’re playing against. A lot of shooters.”

It is the Nuggets’ biggest hope and their biggest problem. Golden State is hitting everything, at 55.7 percent from the field Sunday after 64.6 and 52.5 the previous two games, and Denver can find solace in the realization there is no way the Warriors can continue at that pace. Except that, oh yeah, the Warriors have proven they can and the only thing close to slowing Curry is perhaps Curry’s own gimpy-at-times left ankle.

Karl said after Game 4 that changes were forthcoming, whether in the lineup or staying with the same starters and trying new matchups, but that won’t fix the real problem. The Warriors have demoralized the Nuggets, the team that has shown it cannot be demoralized. That’s the real problem.

“The next 48 hours is going to be difficult, to say the least,” Karl said. “They found some magic and we’ve got to somehow take it away. They’re beating us a lot of different ways. Tonight, I think our offense kind of got frustrated and got selfish. We lost the pass, and that had been our forte. They were definitely the quality offensive team.

“Now we shake it up and how we frustrate them, and now our pride, our competitive pride, is going to be tested on Tuesday night. There’s an excitement of getting this feeling, getting this frustration, out of our bodies by going out and playing our best basketball of the season, at least of the postseason.”

He called the Nuggets “the team without confidence right now.” It’s the biggest upset of the playoffs, that this roster that has stood up so many times before is so emotionally wounded now.

“Just our offense,” Karl said when asked why he so concerned about the mindset now when the core of the roster has handled adversity before.

“They have more flow than we have. They’re passing the ball better than we are. They’re probably making better basketball decisions at the offensive end of the court. And they’re probably twice as good of shooters as we are. They shoot the ball at an incredible level. Tuesday night will be a fight game and a battle game, a pride game, a determination game. We win that game and hopefully something will come our way.”

Another chance, for one thing. And confidence. The Nuggets are hoping to find their confidence.

14 Comments

  1. Kal says:

    Karl better not take the fall for all this… he is the only reason the Nuggets are in the playoffs and/or finishing with a great record every season. you let him go, the whole thing falls apart because there’s no franchise player.

    • Love Playoff Ball says:

      I agree with with the comment above… you get rid of Karl, then you have no nuggets playoffs. The team will fall apart. He knows what he is doing and has brought the team where they are now. Even the players know that, they like him as their coach. Right now, the team has lost their confidence by the way the Warriors have been shooting in the series. It is not about the lineup (starting or benched), the Warriors just want it more right now.

      Most likely, Nuggets will win at home, but will be very difficult to win back in the East Bay.

      For the Warrior fans, enjoy the cheering now, because I find it hard to believe that the Warriors will take the confidence away from an experienced and rested Spurs team. Spurs will win that series.

  2. Chris says:

    I have lived in Colorado my entire life and love the Denver Nuggets and I have always had a lot of respect for Gorge Karl. I remember a Denver Broncco team that always had great season, but when they got to the playoffs or superbowl they turned into a joke. I see the same mentality with this Denver Nugget team. The Broncos fixed theri problem by replaceing the Head coach (with Mike Shannahan) and two years later the Broncos where Super Bowel Champs. I think we need to do the same thing with this Denver Nuggets team. I am tired of watching them “Just get to the Playoffs!” They are better than that. Karl is a great coach and I would hate to see him get fired, but these last 4 or 5 years have been too much. We need a better head coach who can get it done in the playoffs and get us to the Finals!

  3. ThunderUP says:

    Then they take SPURS in SIX.Then lose to to OKC conf. finals in SIX

  4. ThunderUP says:

    warriors in FIve

  5. George Carl is being stupid just like he did last year when the Nuggets played the Lakers when Paul Gasol got 5 offensive boards in a row and George Carl had no 7 footers on the floor but had 3 7 footers sitting on the bench this is the most incompetent coaching I have seen from Coach Carl he is being very illogical right now…. Bogut played 26 min and all 3 7 footers played a total of 28 min…..Javale Mcgee is not in the starting line up, but he is clearly the Nuggets best center, yet he put a rookie in the starting line up that hasn’t proven anything… Then had the nerve to make Faried play center when he should be guarding Barnes…. This is a total waste of talent and George and is not thinking clearly…. It started in the Lakers series last year, or maybe that’s why Carmelo Anthony left, I’m extremely disappointed in George right now…. The Dallas Rice II… I am a Nuggets fan!!!! Starting line up need to be Ty Law, Andre Iggy, Wilson Chandler, The Manimal and Javale Mcgee… Let’s make this happen Carl, stop with the shenanigans…

  6. LebronKingOfNba says:

    coach karl don’t know how to play defense. just saying, that’s why his team is always had been 1st rounders in the playoffs

  7. BJ says:

    Both these teams are great, but GSW is just showing more heart than the Nuggets. the first couple of games were fun to watch. they were shooting the lights out. But I have to give it to Mark Jackson and his team. Those kids are shootin the lights out! Go GSW!!!

  8. Aaron C says:

    Man this is sad. I’m a nuggets fan but Golden State just wants it more. And its not even because Curry is running away with it the whole game. The Nuggets are holding him in the first half. The rest of the team is just playing harder than all the nuggets. Hittin the floor first, gettin the hustle balls, and out rebounding. Plus no one wants to score for the nuggets. Sad series.

  9. Edub says:

    It’s over. Warriors have taken the spirit and fight out of them. And nuggets fans can’t say Gallanari is out because the Warriors are missing David Lee. And many people counted Golden State out when he went down, many did with him healthy.

    But now the Warriors lead the series 3-1 and are most likely going to end it on Tuesday.

    • tpalson says:

      how many 3s does david lee shoot… exactly gallo was our only actual 3 point shooter so dont tell us what we can and can not say

  10. aron says:

    I didn’t expect this. Always thought the warriors were over-matched against the Nuggets even when they had Lee in the lineup. It’s showing now that Denver losing Danilo has a greater negative impact on their offense than the Warriors losing Lee. Maybe the Nuggets get to win another one or two games but the warriors probably wins this series.

    A first round match-up kind of reminiscent about the “We believe” Warriors during the Nelson/Davis era.

  11. Gundy says:

    Curry in the third quarter was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen.

  12. Stephisbeast says:

    Curry is not human. That man is sick – never seen anything like him. No question he is a superstar and should have been an All-Star (shame on you NBA).