OAKLAND, Calif. Allen Iverson squared up, hit a 3-pointer and raised his arms to the air, having thwarted Golden State's final charge. There was no downplaying the importance of this win that put the Denver Nuggets in control of the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Iverson scored 33 points, J.R. Smith added 24 off the bench and the Nuggets overcame a 16-point deficit in the first quarter to win their playoff showdown with the Warriors 114-105 Thursday night.
"Everybody knew what was at stake," Iverson said.
The win moved Denver (48-31) a full game ahead of the Warriors in the race for eighth place in the West with only three games remaining. The Nuggets also control the tiebreaker, meaning they can clinch their fifth straight playoff berth by winning two of their final three games.
Golden State (47-32) probably will need to win its final three games and hope Denver loses twice.
"They're in the catbird seat right now," Warriors coach Don Nelson said.
The Nuggets erased the early deficit by scoring 19 straight points in the second quarter and built the lead up from there, putting the back-to-back losses to Sacramento and Seattle from last weekend behind them.
LAKERS 106, CLIPPERS 78: At Los Angeles, Luke Walton scored 13 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the short-handed Clippers for their fifth win in six games. The victory moved the Lakers (54-25) within 1 1/2 games of the Western Conference-leading New Orleans Hornets entering Friday night's showdown between the teams. The Hornets play three of their last four games on the road while the Lakers finish with three at home.