DENVER – Stephen Curry had 30 points and 13 assists, and the Golden State Warriors handed the Denver Nuggets their first loss at home in more than three months, a 131-117 stunner Tuesday night that evened their playoff series at a game each.
Jarrett Jack added 26 points, Harrison Barnes 24 and Klay Thompson 21 as the sixth-seeded Warriors wrested homecourt advantage from the NBA’s best home team in the series that shifts to Oakland for Game 3 Friday night.
“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.
The Warriors became the second road team to win this postseason after Chicago’s win at Brooklyn on Monday.
With Golden State losing All-Star power forward David 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.
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,” Curry said. “We showed that (Tuesday night). Big road win for us. We’ve got to go home and protect our homecourt.”
Even without their All-Star, the Warriors outrebounded the Nuggets 36-26 and shot a sizzling 64.6 percent, a franchise playoff record.
“We didn’t do much of anything very well,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “I don’t think I ever coached a game when a team got three 35-point quarters, maybe in my career, ever.”
The best anybody shot against Denver during the season was 54 percent, by the Los Angeles Lakers way back Nov. 20, and the most points the Nuggets had allowed was 126 at San Antonio on Nov. 17.
Ty Lawson and Corey Brewer each scored 19 points for Denver, and Andre Iguodala and Miller both had 18.
Lee led the league in double-doubles with 56 and had another before getting hurt in the fourth quarter of the series opener Saturday. He was averaging 18.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
The Warriors were 3-18 without Lee over the last three seasons, but Jackson mixed and matched his lineup to make up for his All-Star’s absence on this night, when Lee cheered on his teammates from the bench.
The Nuggets were hoping the return of Faried would help them reverse their 10-point disadvantage on the boards in Game 1. But he was rusty, and the same problems that plagued Denver in the opener – missing too many open shots, getting outmuscled on the glass and giving up open 3s – haunted them once again.
Curry scored 15 points in the second quarter and hit four jumpers during a 14-5 run the Warriors used to grab control and take the air out of the Pepsi Center as they cruised into halftime with a 61-53 lead that never would be threatened in the second half.
Curry swished another sweet jumper to start the third quarter, and the Warriors opened up a 17-point lead they would stretch to 20 in the fourth quarter.
The Nuggets pulled to 76-69, but Thompson hit a 3-pointer from the right corner and Curry a 3 from the left to make it 82-69. Both were wide open as Denver’s defenders again were running ragged trying to keep up with the Warriors, who handled the altitude just fine.
Every time the Nuggets made a run, the Warriors had an answer, whether it was Curry’s jump shots or reverse dunks by Barnes.
Denver got its deficit down to 115-105, but this time it was Jack’s turn to make a wide-open 3 with the Nuggets defenders scrambling around.
Faried finished with four points and two rebounds in 21 minutes.
The arena was half-empty by the time the horn sounded, a solitary fan yelling derisively, “Tacos!” when Evan Fournier’s free throw fell through the hoop to give the Nuggets 110 points, the magic number for a promotion in which fans get discounted tacos.