DENVER -- The Warriors did what they wanted to do: slow down the NBA's best transition team. The problem with that strategy was that it put backup guard Andre Miller in play.

The Warriors were on the verge of winning Game 1, despite a subpar performance from Stephen Curry and an injury to David Lee. But Miller broke their hearts with a driving layup with 1.2 seconds left, handing Golden State a 97-95 defeat Saturday and souring an otherwise gutsy performance.

"We're not into moral victories," Warriors guard Jarrett Jack said. "In a simple phrase, we played good enough to lose."

DENVER, CO. - APRIL 20: Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) is called for an offensive foul against Andrew Bogut (12) of Golden State in the second
DENVER, CO. - APRIL 20: Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) is called for an offensive foul against Andrew Bogut (12) of Golden State in the second quarter. The Denver Nuggets took on the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round Series at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colo. on April 20, 2013. (Photo by Steve Nehf/The Denver Post) ( Steve Nehf )

The Warriors contained speedy Denver point guard Ty Lawson and silenced forward Andre Iguodala, holding the Nuggets to 11 points below their season average. But they couldn't come up with an answer for Miller. He scored 18 of Denver's 26 fourth-quarter points and finished with a game-high 28, taking advantage of the one-on-one defense he faced.

With 14.5 seconds left, Warriors coach Mark Jackson called on 6-foot-7 rookie forward Draymond Green to play clutch defense. But Miller slithered to his left past Green and avoided shot-blocking center Andrew Bogut by scooping it off the glass on the right side.

"As I saw him start coming left, I was about to step up," Bogut said. "Then he Euro-stepped and just went under to the other side of the basket. ... Smart play by him. He took me out of the play."


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It was a dramatic end and a riveting start to a series most expect to be highly entertaining. The Warriors, even with the loss, head into Game 2 on Tuesday with plenty reasons to be confident.

"I thought we did some things very well," Jackson said. "What I told my team was that nobody came in here thinking that we were going to sweep the Denver Nuggets. You have to win four games to advance, and you can't act like it's over. So take the blow and be ready to make adjustments and respond."

Certainly one of the adjustments will involve getting Curry going. The Nuggets went all out to keep him from hurting them.

They started the game with Lawson on Curry. And every time Curry even thought about making a move, help was ready. Sometimes, Denver sent Wilson Chandler or Iguodala to trap Curry well beyond the 3-point line.

At first Curry invited the double team and passed to the open man. As a result, he had eight assists in the first half and took only two shots. But it seemed as if he began to press after going stretches without shots.

He missed his first nine shots and didn't score until hitting a 3-pointer with 1:20 left in the second quarter.

"I had good looks," said Curry, who finished with 19 points on 20 shots. "I think I might have forced one shot when I rushed it. But for the most part, I felt good about every shot."

In the meantime, guard Klay Thompson carried the Warriors, scoring 13 of his 22 points in the second quarter. The defense did the rest.

Thompson made four consecutive jumpers, the last one putting the Warriors ahead 45-37 with just under three minutes left in the first half. When Curry made his first basket, the Warriors led 48-39.

The Warriors looked to be in trouble after Denver went on a 13-2 run to close the third quarter, taking a 71-64 lead. Then early in the fourth, the Warriors lost Lee for the rest of the game after he crashed to the court on a drive to the basket, injuring his right hip.

But the Warriors mounted one of two fourth-quarter rallies. They got three baskets from forward Carl Landry during a 12-4 run that cut Denver's lead to 78-77. The score was tied at 81 before the Warriors hit a cold spell.

They went 3 minutes, 22 seconds without a point. During that stretch, Miller took over. He scored six of the Nuggets' next eight points as Denver built an 89-81 lead. The Warriors answered again with a 7-2 run, capped by Bogut's second straight layup to cut the deficit to 91-88 with 2:14 left.

The Warriors tied the score when Curry drilled a clutch 3-pointer from the left corner with 14.5 seconds left. They were one stop from overtime, but Miller would not be stopped.

"It's tough, especially when you feel like you deserved to win the game," Thompson said. "But the great thing is this is a long series. We know we can compete with this team every night. We know we can win against this team every night. We did a lot of good things, but we've got to clean up a lot of things."