OAKLAND -- When it ended, when the Warriors beat the Nuggets 92-88, when they moved on to the second round of the playoffs, yellow confetti floated down from the rafters. It filled the air like yellow snow. The crowd, in yellow shirts, stood and shouted, and the defeated Denver Nuggets, under the golden snow flurry, congratulated the Warriors and hugged the players and coaches.
The Warriors' win was inevitable. When they ended the first half just two points down, you knew they would win and the Nuggets were dead. We'd seen the scenario before, the Warriors coming back and putting teams away at the end, overwhelming them.
The Warriors had led about one minute into the first quarter and never again in the first half. But it didn't matter. In the second half, Stephen Curry, who had been strangely lethargic, started sinking 3-pointers from all over the place. His shots had hit the rim in the first half — clunk. But now they were true and they pierced the net as clean as possible — swish.
And Andrew Bogut did what he does — grabbed rebounds and slammed through dunks. And the Nuggets, who play hard, but can't shoot, who almost never score a 3, were no longer nuggets. They were fool's gold. And they were done. Done for the season. Well to be fair, things got pretty hairy for the Warriors at the end of the game, the Nuggets almost coming back from an 18-point deficit.
But Denver didn't make it all the way. And the Warriors' improbable story continues. Now they've eliminated the third seed in the West. And if the 2006-07 “We Believe” team was more heart-stopping and more dramatic than this season's version of the Warriors — was it? — this team is better, deeper, more talented.
The night started with Mark Jackson getting fined $25,000 for opening his mouth about the officials, for trying to influence them, according to the league. Jackson denied the charge, but the league was right. Jackson just about accused Denver coach George Karl of being a thug.