Golden State's Andrew Bogut put in the best performance of his injury-riddled season to lead the Warriors to a 92-88 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, clinching their NBA playoff series 4-2.
Bogut had season-bests and career-playoff highs of 14 points and 21 rebounds as the Warriors overcame the third-seeded Nuggets after an at-times testy series, and moved on to a second-round series against a formidable San Antonio.
In Thursday's other game, the Brooklyn Nets again staved off elimination, beating the Chicago Bulls to square their series 3-3 and send it to a decider in Brooklyn on Saturday.
Bogut also became the first Warriors player with 20 rebounds in a playoff game since Larry Smith had 23 at the Lakers in 1986-87.
"It's very emotional for me because I've had a nightmare of a year,'' said the Australian, who added four blocks and three assists in an unforgettable performance after rehabilitating his left ankle most of the season.
Stephen Curry had 22 points and eight assists while rookie Draymond Green added a career-high 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Warriors, who went ahead by 18 points early in the fourth before holding off one final Nuggets flurry.
"When we go in the locker room, we're jumping up and down, we're hugging, we're changed men,'' coach Mark Jackson said.
"This is the greatest group of men as far as a team that I've ever been around or seen in my life.''
Andre Iguodala scored 24 points and Ty Lawson had 17 in another disappointing early exit for Denver, who have lost in the first round nine of the past 10 seasons.
The Nuggets won 23 of their final 26 regular season games to earn the Western Conference's third seed, then lost four of six to the hot-shooting Warriors.
"We didn't lose this series tonight. This is a proud loss,'' Nuggets coach George Karl said.
"We lost this series in Game 1 and 2. We didn't play well enough to sustain the confidence. We won Game 1 on a last-second layup. In Game 2, we gave away everything we worked for with 57 wins in the season. And that's on me.''
Brooklyn's Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson each scored 17 points as the Nets took out the must-win game against Chicago 95-92.
The Bulls hung in until the end even though they were missing Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, but Brooklyn came away with their second straight win to avoid elimination.
Marco Belinelli started at shooting guard with Jimmy Butler moving to small forward and scored 22 points. Nate Robinson started his second straight game with Hinrich injured and finished with 18 points. Butler had 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Joakim Noah added 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulls while Carlos Boozer scored 14 and grabbed 13 boards.
The winner of the series will face the title favourites, the Miami Heat, in the second round.