Thursday's NBA playoffs: Poole, Curry score 27 points each, Warriors take 3-0 lead
Denver — Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole (Michigan) scored 27 points each, Klay Thompson made six 3-pointers on his way to 26 points and the Golden State Warriors muscled past the Denver Nuggets 118-113 on Thursday night to take a 3-0 lead in the playoff series.
Draymond Green (Michigan State) added a key steal from Nikola Jokic, who finished with 37 points and 18 rebounds, in the final minute and the Warriors closed on a 9-2 run to put the Nuggets on the cusp of elimination.
Golden State can wrap up the series Sunday in Denver. Teams facing a 3-0 deficit in an NBA playoff series are 0-143.
The Nuggets were in control for much of the second half but after Jokic’s finger roll layup put Denver ahead 111-109 with 3:20 left, the Warriors tightened up on defense.
The Nuggets went six straight possessions without scoring and Golden State had the game in hand by the time Will Barton’s tip-in with 23 seconds left pulled Denver to 117-113.
Aaron Gordon added 18 points for the Nuggets, who took an 89-87 lead into the fourth quarter but lost for the seventh straight time in the postseason.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone complained before the game that his team hadn’t been aggressive, physical or vocal in the series, so he inserted Facundo Campazzo into his rotation after losing the first two games by an average of 18 points.
“When you’re a little bit undermanned like we are, we have to be ultra physical, ultra aggressive and take the fight to them,” Malone said.
► Dallas 126, (at) Utah 118: Jalen Brunson scored 31 points playing with a bruised back and Dalla s— without the injured Luka Doncic — beat Utah to take a 2-1 lead.
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter for Dallas, Maxi Kleber had 17 points and Dorian Finney-Smith added 14 points, hitting a 3-pointer with 1:56 left for a 10-point lead.
Doncic has missed all three of the games in the series with a strained calf, with signs pointing to his return for Game 4 on Saturday in Salt Lake City.
Donovan Mitchell scored 28 of his 32 points in the second half for Utah. Bojan Bogdanovic added 24 and Mike Conley had 21. The Jazz had won 11 in a row at home against Dallas.
►Memphis 104, (at) Minnesota 95: Desmond Bane made seven 3-pointers and had 26 points and the Memphis Grizzlies overcame a 26-point deficit to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-95 on Thursday night for a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Brandon Clarke scored 16 of his 20 points in the second half for Memphis, and Ja Morant had a quiet triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Tyus Jones hit two dagger 3-pointers against his former team down the stretch, and the Grizzlies seized back home-court advantage. They stunned a Wolves team that won Game 1 on the road 130-117, but took an ugly 124-96 loss in Game 2.
Game 4 is on Saturday night in Minneapolis.
Bucks' Middleton out at least 2 weeks
Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton is expected to miss at least two weeks after injuring his left knee Wednesday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series with the Chicago Bulls.
The Bucks announced Thursday night that the three-time All-Star had undergone an MRI earlier that day and that they would offer their next status update on him in “approximately two weeks.”
That likely knocks him out at least for the rest of the Bucks-Bulls series., which is tied 1-1. If the series goes the full seven games, it would end May 1.
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said after he Bucks' 114-110 loss Wednesday that Middleton had a sprained medial collateral ligament. The MRI confirmed that diagnosis.
Middleton headed into the locker room with 6:49 left in Wednesday's game. His left leg gave out while he tried to plant on a spin move.
The Bucks did get some good news Thursday.
Their injury report for Game 3 doesn’t include forward Bobby Portis, an indication he should be available to play after missing most of Game 2 with a right eye abrasion. Portis took a hit to the face from Chicago’s Tristan Thompson late in the first quarter as both players were going after a rebound.
Milwaukee won’t have reserve guard George Hill, who still hasn’t played in this series due to an abdominal strain.
The Bucks have been through this situation before, dealing with a knee injury to one of their top players during the playoffs. Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee in Game 4 of last season’s Eastern Conference finals with the Atlanta Hawks.
Antetokounmpo missed the final two games of that series but returned for the next round and was named the MVP of the Bucks’ NBA Finals victory over the Phoenix Suns.