OAKLAND (CBS/AP) — Stephen Curry shook off a sore left ankle to score 22 of his 31 points in the third quarter, leading the Golden State Warriors past the Denver Nuggets 115-101 on Sunday night for a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Curry shot 10 of 16 from the floor and added seven assists in a dominant and dazzling display that rivaled his days in the NCAA tournament for tiny Davidson. His five 3-pointers in the third quarter lifted Golden State to a 20-point lead and its third straight victory in this frenetic and flashy series.
Jarrett Jack added 21 points and nine assists and Andrew Bogut broke out in the first half with 12 points and five rebounds for the sixth-seeded Warriors, who can close out the Nuggets in Game 5 on Tuesday night in Denver.
Ty Lawson scored 26 points and Andre Iguodala had 19 for the third-seeded Nuggets.
The Warriors lost All-Star forward David Lee to a season-ending hip injury in Game 1, and Curry sprained his left ankle late in Game 2. With Curry carrying the load anyway, none of it has seemed to matter.
The quick-shooting point guard hit 5 of 8 from beyond the arc in a spectacular third quarter, when nearly every gold-shirt wearing fan in the sellout crowd of 19,596 stood and cheered. Curry scored all 22 points in the final 6:22 of the quarter, showing the kind of range that helped him make 272 3-pointers in the regular season — three more than Ray Allen’s record set in 2005-06 with Seattle.
Curry capped his remarkable run with two of his most highlight-reel plays.
He stole the ball from Lawson, stopped in heavy traffic and dropped in a 27-footer before sprinting all the way to the bench high-fiving and chest-bumping teammates. Following a timeout, Curry sprung free near Denver’s bench for a corner 3 that gave Golden State a 91-72 lead entering the fourth.
Curry’s five 3s in the quarter were a Warriors record for a half.
Curry, wearing heavy tape around his nagging ankle, gave fans a scare when Corey Brewer poked Curry in the eye going for a rebound early in the fourth. Curry returned about 4½ minutes later, receiving another standing ovation from the home fans.
While Curry scored only seven points in the first half, Bogut broke out in a big way to provide the one-two punch Golden State had long envisioned.
The 7-footer from Australia sliced down a wide open lane off a pick-and-roll with Curry in the first quarter, took one dribble and dunked over JaVale McGee with a thunderous right-handed slam. Bogut, who received a technical foul in Game 3 for daring Denver’s big man to punch him on the chin during a face-to-face altercation, stared back at McGee while backpedalling down court.
In the second quarter, Bogut backed down Kosta Koufos before hammering home another dunk. He also soared high for a backdoor alley-oop from Curry to help the Warriors go ahead 45-37, and chants of “Bogut! Bogut!” echoed around the arena while the video board kept replaying his dunks.
Bogut sat out the final 4:37 of the first half with three fouls, and Andre Miller almost single-handily brought Denver back within a point. Then Curry hit his first 3-pointer of the game — officially a 27-footer that seemed closer to the scorer’s table than the arc — as Golden State scored the last 11 points before the break to go ahead 56-44.
After falling behind by 15 early in the third quarter, the Nuggets started to rally behind their point guard.
Lawson, who scored a career-playoff high 35 points in the Game 3 loss, shook off a slow start to highlight a 14-4 run that sliced Golden State’s lead to 62-58 midway through the third quarter. Just when it seemed they might crawl back, Curry countered with a devastating blow to Denver’s playoff hopes.
NOTES: For the third straight game, Warriors coach Mark Jackson listed Carl Landry at power forward in his starting lineup submitted before the game, even though Harrison Barnes started at power forward and Landry came off the bench. Jackson said beforehand that he’d do it again because “it worked.” Nuggets coach George Karl said it’s not what coaches typically do but joked that Jackson is “consistent” and maybe “superstitious.” … Jackson’s wife, Desiree Coleman Jackson, sang the national anthem.
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