Bogut shines for Warriors as Nuggets bow out
It will be Aussie, Aussie, Aussie when Andrew Bogut's Golden State Warriors take on Patty Mills and Aron Baynes' San Antonio Spurs in the NBA's Western Conference semi-final series on Monday.
Bogut was at his dominant best today, leading the Warriors to a 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets with 14 points, 21 rebounds, four blocks and three assists.
The home win put the Warriors up 4-2 in the series, eliminating the Nuggets from the playoffs and sending the San Francisco Bay Area team to San Antonio for game one on Monday.
''This is an emotional moment,'' said Bogut, who has never been to the second round of the playoffs.
''Nobody picked us to win this series so it's a big win for us.''
The Nuggets are a young, high-flying team with little playoff experience, while the Spurs are a clinical, lethal franchise led by four-time NBA championship-winning head coach Gregg Popovich and veteran forward-centre Tim Duncan.
The Spurs are the United Nations of the NBA, featuring Australian guard Mills, forward-centre Baynes, French trio Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and Nando De Colo, Argentina's Manu Ginobli and Brazil's Tiago Splitter.
''Hopefully we can keep rolling,'' Bogut said.
The Warriors almost blew it against the Nuggets earlier today, seemingly cruising with a 80-62 lead with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, but committed eight turnovers and with 32 seconds left the Nuggets were only behind 90-88.
The Nuggets missed a number of equalisers and Warriors guard Jarrett Jack sealed the game in the final seconds with two free throws.
It was Bogut who kept the Warriors in the game in the first half while the team's top shooters, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were cold from the three point line, missing all six attempts between them.
Bogut, however, earned all four of his blocks in the first two quarters and motivated his team with a number of monster rebounds and dunks.
The Spurs will be the short-priced favourites in the series, having dominated the Warriors over the years. The Warriors have lost 29 straight games on the Spurs home court, with the streak going all of the way back to 1997.
NETS SEND SERIES TO DECIDER
In the other NBA playoff game today, the Brooklyn Nets tied their series with the Chicago Bulls with a 95-92 win, forcing a winner-takes-all game seven on Sunday (NZ time) in Brooklyn.
Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson each scored 17 points, and the Nets again avoided elimination, beating the short-handed Bulls.
The winner will get defending champion Miami in the second round.
"We just believed," Johnson said. "We believed in one another. In practice (Wednesday), we went over a lot. More so than anything, it was about who wanted it badder."
The Bulls hung in until the end even though they were missing Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, but Brooklyn came away with its second straight win to avoid elimination.
A layup by Nazr Mohammed cut the Nets' lead to 93-92 with 25.2 seconds remaining.
Nate Robinson then fouled Andray Blatche, who had missed a free throw only moments earlier. This time, he hit both to make it a three-point game with 19.2 seconds left.
The Bulls had opportunities to tie it, but Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer and Joakim Noah stepped out of bounds with about six seconds left.
Chicago still had a chance, though.
Noah tied up Williams after the inbounds, resulting in a jump ball with 3.6 seconds left.
Johnson controlled the ball, and the Nets hung on.
Wallace added 15 points for Brooklyn.
Only eight NBA teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-7 series, but the Nets are in position to do just that.