Saturday, April 20

Poole shines in playoff debut as Warriors best Nuggets in Curry’s return for series opener

Jordan Poole shone in his long-awaited playoff debut with 30 points, staying in the starting lineup as Stephen Curry returned from a foot injury by coming off the bench, and the Golden State Warriors smothered Nikola Jokic to beat the visiting Denver Nuggets 123-107 in the opener of their first-round playoff series Saturday night.

Healthy at last, Klay Thompson returned to the playoff stage for the first time in nearly three years and scored 19 points with five three-pointers, and the perimeter combination of Curry, Poole and Thompson was too much for the Nuggets.

Jokic had 25 points and 10 rebounds for Denver, facing stifling defense in the paint from Draymond Green and Kevon Looney while shooting 12 for 25.

Canada’s Andrew Wiggins scored 16 points, adding nine rebounds and two assists in 29 minutes of play.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Monday night at Chase Center — which hosted its first playoff game since opening in fall 2019. Fans received black T-shirts reading “Gold Blooded.”

Curry came off the bench to contribute 16 points in 21 minutes after missing exactly a month with a sprained ligament in his left foot. The two-time MVP tested it in a scrimmage Thursday, came off the bench and had a minute restriction. I checked in at the 5:58 mark of the first quarter to a rousing ovation.

Curry missed his first five shots before a layup that went in on a goaltending call against Aaron Gordon 1:14 before halftime, then knocked down a three from the top of the arc as the Warriors took a 58-47 lead at the break.

Golden State won its final five games to end the regular season and kept rolling.

Jokic averaged 28 points, 15.8 rebounds and 8.8 assists in the four matchups with the Warriors, three won by the Nuggets but only one by double digits. But Green hadn’t faced Denver this season, so his addition to it was huge.

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Green hit a 3 from the top over Jokic with 1:47 left in the third, then the Nuggets star committed a turnover moments later as Gary Payton II capitalized with a basket that put Golden State up 89-68.

Green wound up with 12 points, nine assists, six rebounds and three blocked shots for a Warriors team that lost last year in the play-in game to Memphis and is back in the playoffs for the first time since losing the 2019 NBA Finals in six games to Toronto.

That was Thompson’s last playoff game, when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee that required surgery before he tore his right Achilles tendon in November 2020 and had that repaired — costing him more than two and a half years until he came back in January .

Aaron Gordon and Thompson were hit with double technical fouls at the 6:25 mark of the second.

Timberwolves Stun Grizzlies

Anthony Edwards scored 36 points in his post-season debut, and the seventh-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves stunned hosts and No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies 130-117 on Saturday to grab home-court advantage in the opener of their first-round Western Conference series .

Karl-Anthony Towns added 29 and 13 rebounds. Malik Beasley had 23 points, and Jaden McDaniels 15. Patrick Beverley and D’Angelo Russell had 10 apiece.

The Timberwolves, fresh off beating the Los Angeles Clippers in the play-in game, won their first playoff opener since 2004. That’s when they beat Sacramento in the first round on their way to the Western Conference finals.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Memphis.

Ja Morant led Memphis with 32 points and eight assists, and Dillon Brooks added 24 points. Brandon Clarke had 13 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Desmond Bane scored 17 points and Jaren Jackson Jr. had 12.

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Memphis tied the franchise record for winning 56 games in the regular season and earning its highest seed ever. The Grizzlies had a packed FedExForum for only their third Game 1 in Memphis. But they struggled early after a week off and led only twice by two, the last midway through the second quarter.

In this matchup of the NBA’s top-scoring offenses and two of the league’s youngest teams this season, the Timberwolves set franchise records for points in both the first quarter and the game. They also stymied Memphis with their 3-point shooting, rebounding and defense.

The Timberwolves looked like a team that played Tuesday night needing a win to clinch its seeding. They opened with a 9-2 run and led by as much as 13 before a 41-33 lead for the franchise’s highest-scoring first quarter in the playoffs.

Minnesota led 65-62 at halftime, then outscored Memphis 32-30 in the third for a 97-92 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Mitchell helps Jazz edge Doncic-less Mavericks

Donovan Mitchell scored 30 of his 32 points after halftime, Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 26 and the Utah Jazz opened the playoffs with a 99-93 victory Saturday over hosts Dallas Mavericks, who were injured without all-star guard Luka Doncic.

Bogdanovic had Utah’s only two three-pointers before halftime, in a 13-2 run over the final three and a half minutes that put the Jazz ahead to stay. Mitchell, who always seems to step up in the post-season, came alive after the break.

The fourth-seeded Mavericks, starting the playoffs at home for the first time since their NBA title season 11 years ago, sorely missed their 23-year-old superstar. Doncic strained his left calf six days earlier in the regular-season finale. Coach Jason Kidd has said only that he is day to day.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Monday night in Dallas.

Stephen Curry came back from injury and scored 16 points to help the Warriors the visiting Nuggets 123-107 in a western conference first found playoff game on Saturday. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Jalen Brunson, the starting point guard with Doncic out, had 24 points on 9-of-24 shooting with seven rebounds. Spencer Dinwiddie scored 22 points, Reggie Bullock added 15 and Dorian Finney-Smith 14.

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With Doncic in a black hoodie on the bench, the Mavericks cut an 11-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter to 92-91 on a three-pointer by Maxi Kleber with 2:12 left. After Mitchell missed, the Mavs had the chance to take their first lead in the second half, but Kleber missed badly on another long-range shot.

Royce O’Neale then scored his only basket for the Jazz, a three-pointer from the corner after he had first missed inside and then got a pass from Mitchell. Utah finished with a 20-7 edge in second-chance points.

Rudy Gobert had 17 rebounds for the Jazz.

The Jazz, who were second in the NBA with 14.5 made three-pointers a game, missed their first nine shots from beyond the arc until Bogdanovic hit from the right corner in front of the Dallas bench to get them within 41-35 with 3: 10 left in the second quarter.

Utah’s only other 3 before halftime by Bogdanovic with 2.2 seconds left for a 45-43 lead after taking a pass back from Mitchell.

Doncic spent the game at the end of the Mavericks bench, at one point munching popcorn from a cup in his hand late in the first quarter. He was on the other side of owner Mark Cuban as both — along with much of the Mavs bench — acted in dismay with 31 seconds left in the first half after Kleber was called for a foul when Bogdanovic went hard into him to draw the call.

Bogdanovic made both of those free throws, and Bruson hit a tough shot at the other end, but the Utah forward made his half-ending three that put the Jazz ahead to stay.

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