Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 12/26

Game 1: Monday, December 26th
Game 2: Monday, February 6th
Game 3: Saturday, April 8th

Warriors 92

(30-46, 12-26 away)

Nuggets 95

(43-34, 26-13 home)

    Coverage: FSBAY

    7:00 PM ET, April 8, 2006

    Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

    1 2 3 4 T
    GS 20 20 28 2492
    DEN 26 26 19 2495

    Top Performers

    GS: M. Dunleavy 18 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast

    Den: C. Anthony 28 Pts, 3 Reb, 2 Ast

    Nuggets clinch tie for Northwest Division crown

    DENVER (AP) -- The will to win a game just wasn't as strong as it was the day before for the Denver Nuggets after the sobering news that teammate Julius Hodge had been shot.

    "They were hit by it," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We're all human beings. Just because we play in the NBA or coach in the NBA, we're still a human being. We're not super men."

    The Nuggets moved closer to their first division title in 18 years, holding off the Golden State Warriors 95-92 Saturday night. They lost focus, they were sluggish, they let an undermanned team with no chance of reaching the playoffs come back from a 16-point deficit.

    But they won.

    Considering what they had been through in less than 24 hours, it was a remarkable accomplishment.

    "It was an ugly win, but we will take it," said Denver's Ruben Patterson, who had 12 points. "I think guys had a lot in their heads today with what happened to Julius last night. I know I did. We were all devastated and hurt. But it could have been worse. He could not be here today."

    Hodge, Denver's first-round draft choice last year, was shot while driving on a north Denver highway around 2 a.m. after visiting a friend at a nightclub. Though he was listed in fair condition and is expected to recover within a few weeks, the incident left the Nuggets clearly shaken.

    Denver got off to a slow start, went on an 11-2 run to go up 12 at the half, then let Golden State back in it. The lack of focus was particularly evident at the free throw line, where the Nuggets were just 21-of-40, including 7-for-16 in the final quarter.

    If not for Carmelo Anthony's 28 points and Marcus Camby's play inside (17 rebounds and eight blocked shots), Denver wouldn't have much of a chance, even against a team without its top two scorers. But by pulling it out, the Nuggets can win their first division title since 1988 with another win or a loss by Utah.

    "No one thought when you wake up and hear that type of news that you have to go through stuff like that," said Camby, who had at least 15 rebounds for the 15th time this season.

    Golden State played without guard Baron Davis for the 13th straight game because of a sprained ankle and had to do without Jason Richardson, who's been bothered by sore knees. Those two combine for 41.4 points per game, so that wasn't exactly what a team that had lost seven straight games needed.

    It showed in the first half.

    With Mike Dunleavy and Derek Fisher as their only true scoring threats, the Warriors couldn't muster much offense early, hitting only eight of 26 shots in the first quarter and shooting 34 percent in the first half. It didn't help that Dunleavy and Fisher went a combined 3-for-15 in the half and Camby was all over the place on defense, swatting four shots in the first quarter.

    But after their first-half struggles, Dunleavy and Fisher fought their way back, helping the Warriors cut Denver's lead to 71-68 by the end of the third quarter. And they kept it up in the fourth, giving Golden State a chance in a game they probably should have had no chance of winning, especially after playing the night before and not getting into Denver until 4 a.m.

    "People picked up the slack and put us in position to win," said Dunleavy, who had 14 of his 18 points in the second half. "We just didn't have enough to win it."

    It sure was close, though.

    The Warriors went up 87-84 with just over 4 minutes left on Monta Ellis' 3-pointer before Denver rallied to take a three-point lead on a pair of free throws by Anthony. Camby made it 94-90 by hitting 1-of-2 free throws, then Fisher cut the lead in half with a pair at the other end with 7.4 seconds left.

    Andre Miller could have sealed it for Denver after being fouled a second later, but he managed to make just one, giving Golden State one last shot. The Warriors never got it off, though. Ellis' off-balance 3-pointer came nowhere near the basket and after the final buzzer.

    Fisher and Ike Diogu led the Warriors with 19 points apiece.

    "There was a recipe for disaster not having Jason Richardson out, getting in at 4 a.m. and playing a back-to-back," Warriors coach Mike Montgomery said. "But the guys hung in there and gave us a chance. We battled hard."

    Game notes

    Nuggets F Kenyon Martin missed his second straight game with knee tendinitis. .. Golden State's Troy Murphy had 19 rebounds.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 92 95
    FGM-FGA 33-83 (.398) 34-76 (.447)
    3PM-3PA 5-15 (.333) 6-16 (.375)
    FTM-FTA 21-26 (.808) 21-40 (.525)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-50 10-42
    Assists 21 24
    Turnovers 16 12
    Steals 5 7
    Blocks 2 9
    Fast Break Points 14 21
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 26 (1/0) 24 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 3 16

    Top Performers

    Golden State
    Mike Dunleavy Dunleavy
    Points: 18
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Carmelo Anthony Anthony
    Points: 28
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0