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Warriors punch ticket to second round

Golden State Warriors forward Carl Landry scrambles for a loose ball with teammate Stephen Curry and Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee during their playoff game in Oakland on Thursday, May 2, 2013.

CHRISTOPHER CHUNG / The Press Democrat
Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 11:06 p.m.

OAKLAND — The Warriors didn’t charge into the second round of the NBA playoffs. They crawled there, nearly out of gas and seemingly ready to stall.

They got there nonetheless with a 92-88 victory over the Denver Nuggets, and now head to San Antonio for a Monday game against the second-seeded Spurs.

“It’s a model organization and it’s going to be a tough task,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said of the Spurs. “They are clearly the favorite. But it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

After building an 80-62 lead, with the yellow-clad crowd — led by San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval — dancing in the aisles, the Warriors suddenly went to sleep.

Denver conjured a 13-0 run to cut the margin to 80-75 with 4:41 left.

Bad passes by Stephen Curry, Jarrett Jack and Klay Thompson gave the Nuggets additional opportunities in the closing minutes, and they cut the lead to 90-88 on a free throw by Kenneth Faried with 32 seconds remaining.

Jack helped preserve Golden State’s win with a pair of free throws with seven seconds left, and only after Andre Miller and Faried missed shots did the Warriors breathe sighs of relief.

“I think that God has a sense of humor,” Jackson said afterward. “Because he wanted to show folks at the end, as we threw the ball all over the place. And it’s only a miracle that we advance.”

David Lee provided the inspiration Thursday, Curry poured in the key points and the frenzied Oracle Arena crowd was a factor all night.

The Warriors outscored Denver 33-20 in the decisive third quarter, largely behind Curry’s deadeye shooting.

His two free throws at the 10:12 mark finally brought Golden State even at 44-44, and his three 3-pointers in a span of 1:32 put the Warriors up by six.

Curry finished with 22 points and eight assists. Green added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Bogut had 14 points and 21 rebounds.

The Nuggets’ Andre Iguodala led all scorers with 24 points, but his team was off-the-mark for much of the night. Denver shot just 34.7 percent from the floor, 25 percent from 3-point range and 61.9 percent from the free-throw line. It was appropriate on a night when the giveaway T-shirts read DEFENSE across the shoulders.

Before their third-quarter run, the Warriors had a difficult time getting in any rhythm.

Bogut almost single-handedly kept them in the game in the first half. He finished the half with eight points and 10 rebounds, and was the home team’s lone presence inside defensively.

Despite’s Bogut intensity, Denver took 53 shots in the first half, compared to 39 by the Warriors. The Nuggets pushed their lead to 11 points on Miller’s layup at 7:22 of the second quarter, but Golden State went on an 8-0 run after that to tighten up the contest.

Earlier Thursday, Jackson was fined $25,000 by the NBA for “attempting to influence the officials.” If Jackson was guilty of that charge, his strategy backfired. Danny Crawford’s crew called a loose game and, if anything, called most of the marginal calls against Golden State, at least early on.

Each team was whistled just once in the first quarter.

Lee, expected to miss the rest of the series and perhaps the entirety of the postseason after suffering a torn hip flexor in Game 1, whipped the crowd into a frenzy by suiting up and playing in Game 6. Lee’s contributions were mostly symbolic. He played just under a minute and a half and did not score.

“I don’t know what his role will be going forward,” Jackson said of Lee. “I watched him work out yesterday. I watched him run, I watched him play dummy one-on-one with one of our video guys. ... I realized right away he could help us in the ballgame.”

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