Denver, CO – Andre Miller poured in a game-high 28 points, including the game-winning layup with 1.2 seconds remaining, to lift the Denver Nuggets to a 97-95 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday in a Western Conference quarterfinal matchup at Pepsi Center.
Golden State superstar Stephen Curry connected on a 3-pointer from the left corner to tie the game with 14.5 seconds remaining, but Miller answered at the other end, as the crafty veteran drove to his left before switching to his right and finishing a layup to send the Nuggets to their 24th consecutive home victory.
"I never hit a game-winning shot before," Miller said. "I don't think both teams wanted to go to overtime after that type of game. Both teams were tired and we were just happy to get that win."
Ty Lawson tallied 12 points, while Wilson Chandler chipped in 11 points and 13 rebounds for the third-seeded Nuggets, who have won 24 of their last 27 games overall.
Evan Fournier got the start in place of forward Kenneth Faried, who was in uniform, but did not play due to a left ankle problem. Fournier finished with 11 points.
Klay Thompson paced the Warriors with 22 points, while Curry contributed 19 points and nine assists for Golden State, which earned the sixth seed in the West and is in the postseason for the first time since 2006-07.
David Lee added 10 points and 14 boards, but left early in the fourth quarter and did not return after sustaining a probable right hip flexor strain.
Game 2 of this best-of-seven series is scheduled for Tuesday, April 23 in Denver.
Eighteen of Miller's 28 points came in the fourth, as his three-point play with 6:35 left broke an 81-81 tie and sent the Nuggets on an 8-0 surge, which the veteran guard capped by splitting a pair at the free throw line to give Denver an 89-81 cushion.
Thompson answered with a triple to quell the spurt before Andrew Bogut followed with a short hook shot to bring the Warriors within three.
Miller then knocked down back-to-back buckets around a Bogut jumper to keep the Nuggets ahead by five, but Draymond Green countered with a putback layup and Jarrett Jack followed with two free throws to make it 93-92 with 1:14 left.
After a Miller miss on Denver's next touch, Jack came up with a big offensive rebound on the other end and called timeout with 44.5 ticks remaining, but Lawson stripped Curry on the ensuing possession before finishing a layup to give the Nuggets a two-point edge with 35.7 seconds left.
Curry made up for the turnover by drilling a triple from the deep left corner off a nice feed from Jack, but Miller had the final say with his driving layup with 1.2 seconds left.
"I don't think anybody came in here believing we were going to sweep the Denver Nuggets," Golden State coach Mark Jackson said. "You have to win four games to advance. It's not over."
Curry managed just four points on 1-of-10 shooting from the field in the first half, but did hand out eight assists over the opening 24 minutes to help the Warriors enter the break clinging to a 48-44 lead.
Denver remained within striking distance throughout the third, but was unable to pull in front until Chandler converted consecutive jumpers to spark an 8-0 spurt that gave the Nuggets a 66-62 edge with 2:10 left in the frame.
Thompson ended the run with a deep two-pointer from the left wing, but Corey Brewer answered with back-to-back buckets, including a trey with 2.8 seconds left to send the Nuggets into the fourth holding a 71-64 advantage.
Denver's lead was eight, 78-70, less than two minutes into the fourth before Harrison Barnes buried a trey and Carl Landry followed with consecutive layups to bring the Warriors within one, 78-77, with 9:02 remaining in the contest.
Landry finished with 14 points off the bench, while Bogut added nine points and 14 boards for the Warriors ... Denver went 38-3 at Pepsi Center during the regular season ... The Nuggets are in the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season ... The Warriors lost three of four meetings with the Nuggets during the regular season.