OAKLAND -- The Warriors pulled out all the stops, milked all the emotion, unleashed all the noise, and all of that just set the stage.

They have one and only one headliner, who happened to be the show-stopping closer, too, in front of an ear-splitting Oracle Arena crowd Thursday.

It's Stephen Curry, hero of the playoffs and conqueror of the Denver Nuggets.

"The great ones find a way," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "At times he was struggling, but he found some moments to change the game."

Curry got a lot of help during the Warriors' ground-shaking and series-clinching 92-88 Game 6 victory, most notably from Andrew Bogut, who had 21 rebounds and four blocked shots in his finest hour as a Warrior.

But once again, it was Curry who shined the brightest at the most imperative moments, and it was Curry who singularly out-classed the opponent.

"When we were down in that first half, I pulled him aside and said, 'There's going to be a point in this game where you're going to take over because you're the best player on the floor,'" Jackson said.

"And what will happen is everybody else will follow. And sure enough, that's exactly what took place."

So the Warriors move on to the second round, where they will face the San Antonio Spurs, who must already be scratching their heads about the Curry Problem.

Game 1 will be Monday in San Antonio -- where the Warriors haven't won since 1997 -- and the Warriors will go into that series as underdogs ... but also bursting with confidence after upsetting the third-seeded Nuggets.


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"It's up to us to go down there and compete hard," Curry said of San Antonio. "Nobody thought we could win this series. Why not the next one?"

How can you ever be out of a series when you have Curry with the ball in his hands, lining up shots from outer galaxies?

In the 7-minute stretch in the third quarter that changed this game and sent Oracle into levitation, Curry made four 3-pointers, two free throws and had three assists.

Added up, that was a 25-12 Warriors run, it changed a two-point Warriors deficit to an 11-point Warriors lead, and it was Curry at his best.

And, if anybody needed any more proof, when he is at his best, the Warriors are very, very tough to defeat.

In all, this latest Curry Flurry led to a 33-20 third-quarter eruption for the Warriors, and gave them a 10-point lead that grew to 18 in the fourth quarter.

It would not be a cruise to the finish, however.

With the offense hitting a wall and the Warriors committing 10 turnovers in the quarter, including five in the final 97 seconds, it was a fight to the absolute finish.

"I think God has a sense of humor because he wanted to show folks at the end as we threw the ball all over the place that it's only a miracle that we advanced," Jackson said.

After a series of Andre Iguodala 3-pointers and egregiously bad Warriors' possessions, Denver closed it to 90-88 with under a minute left.

But the Warriors did just enough ... and they had Curry.

The night got off to a stunning -- and thunderous -- start when David Lee emerged in full uniform for warm-ups. This came only 12 days after Lee, the team's only All-Star, suffered what the team called a season-ending hip flexor tear in Game 1.

"Says a lot about who he is that put himself in position to inspire his team," Jackson said of Lee.

The crowd roared when Lee came out for warm-ups, roared when he dunked in the layup line, roared when he checked into the game with 2:23 left in the first quarter and roared when he took down a rebound right away.

But he missed a shot, definitely looked a little stiff and came out less than two minutes later and didn't return.

"I guess the New York City in me -- the Willis Reed impact as a kid -- really played a role," Jackson said, referring to an iconic moment in NBA history, the return of injured Knicks center Willis Reed for Game 7 of the 1971 finals. "Because not only did I put him in, but I ran a play for him, for a shot just about where Willis hit his shot ...

"Obviously part of it was for inspiration, and it got the crowd going."

But Bogut was the first-half star for the Warriors, scoring eight points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking four shots in the first two quarters. He finished with 21 rebounds and 15 points -- his greatest game since the controversial trade that brought him here last season for crowd favorite Monta Ellis.

There's a new crowd favorite now -- Stephen Curry, the closer, the headliner and the best player in the series, by a far enough measure.

There's only one question you can ask of Curry now: How much higher can he go?

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.