DENVER -- Big Andrew Bogut was back in his comfort zone Monday, deflecting and swatting and discouraging numerous attempts to test his resolve.

This was different from last Saturday, when the Denver Nuggets constantly tested the 7-foot Warriors center with shots at or near the rim, only for him to block four and affect maybe a dozen more in Game 1 of this first-round Western Conference playoff series.

No, this was a group of reporters out to determine if Bogut, as we approach Game 2 here Tuesday night, would flinch on the subject of his cranky ankle.

He did not.

 Andrew Bogut #12 of the Golden State Warriors is fouled by Kosta Koufos #41 of the Denver Nuggets during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals
Andrew Bogut #12 of the Golden State Warriors is fouled by Kosta Koufos #41 of the Denver Nuggets during Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 20, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

"I'm not really going to answer that, because I'm here playing in the playoffs," Bogut responded to the first query about his surgically repaired left ankle. "I'm not going to be one of those guys that says, 'I'm banged up,' or 'I'm not.' What's the purpose anyhow? I'm playing in the playoffs, so it's good."

That speaks volumes about Bogut's mindset. He's determined to ignore any barking from his ankle, which caused him to miss 50 games at various points of the regular season, including two of the last three.

It is that ankle, though, that nags at those wondering if Bogut will ever be an effective player for even 60-70 games. Will his mobility ever be what it once was? Will he always be a part-time player?


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And, of course, why was Monta Ellis traded for a guy whose ankle has the strength and durability of a wet toothpick?

The big man's mobility might never be what it was. He might always need shelf time to quiet the nerves within and around the ankle. As for the Monta trade, seeing Bogut and the Warriors in the playoffs for the second time in 19 years ought to answer that question.

Even if Bogut didn't rotate over quickly enough on Andre Miller's much-debated game-winning shot, he scored nine points, grabbed 14 rebounds and played 31 minutes to anchor a defense that made the Nuggets think before entering the paint. They often settled for jump shots.

In terms of pure statistical influence, Bogut was the team's MVP in Game 1.

"He played extremely well," coach Mark Jackson said. "He's got a live body, contested shots, protected the rim, rebounded, and was very good setting screens and making plays offensively.

"When he plays that way -- when his body feels comfortable enough for him to play that way -- we're a different team. The issue is how he feels and how his body responds. There's no question about his ability to play the center position and impact the game."

That's the Bogut effect, even though he was not entirely impressed.

"OK," was how Bogut assessed his work in Game 1. "Still some room to improve, though. Obviously, taking more of the load offensively would be nice, especially with David (Lee) out now. Defensively, did a pretty good job of not just blocking shots but changing shots and coming early to help."

Though Jackson would not divulge who would start at power forward -- Carl Landry remains a good bet -- he was emphatic about Bogut being on the court at the opening tip.

No more emphatic, though, than Bogut himself.

He'd already flicked away the question about his ankle when another reporter took another approach, asking if he was 100 percent.

Golden State Warriors Andrew Bogut (C) struggles to get past Denver Nuggets Kosta Koufos (L) and Ty Lawson (R) in the fourth quarter of their NBA Western
Golden State Warriors Andrew Bogut (C) struggles to get past Denver Nuggets Kosta Koufos (L) and Ty Lawson (R) in the fourth quarter of their NBA Western Conference Quarterfinals basketball playoff series in Denver April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

"I'm not going to answer that. I'm not going to answer that," he affirmed. "I'm playing in the playoffs, and I'll leave it at that. I'm not going to put a number on it, or say I'm healthy or unhealthy. I think it's an out if I play bad and all of a sudden it's a hero story if I play well. So, let's leave it as it is."

Undeterred, a third reporter asked Bogut if he felt better than he had in a long time.

"I'm not going to answer that," he answered with a trace of a grin. "Nice try."

Bogut, who put up seven shots in Game 1, likely will be more scoring-conscious in Game 2. But it's more important that he remains a huge factor on the other end, near the rim, where the Nuggets like to live.

That's where Bogut lives, too. It's where the Warriors want him to be, where they need him to be, even if his ankle is howling.

Contact Monte Poole at mpoole@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/1montepoole.

Tuesday's game

GAME 2: Warriors at Denver, 7:30 p.m. CSNBA, TNT


INSIDE

Warriors accustomed to being counted out. Page 5
Carl Landry ready to assume a larger role with Lee out. Page 5