OAKLAND -- When the Golden State Warriors fell behind by 14 points after just nine minutes of a game that was critical to their playoff chances, coach Don Nelson let his team have it during a timeout.
"The last thing I want to do is start yelling and screaming too much," Nelson said. "That was an exception. I thought they needed it. We got that out of the way. I hope they didn't put it on TV. I was miked tonight, but I don't think they could have put that one on."
The national television audience might not have gotten Nelson's message, but his players sure did. They erased that deficit by the second quarter and rolled past the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers in the third quarter of a 111-95 win Thursday night that bolstered their playoff hopes.
"We were a little flat, but we found a way to win," said Stephen Jackson, who scored 14 of his 24 points in the decisive third quarter. "We got it going in the second half. We can't play like that on the road, though. We have to be ready to play from the jump. We have some good teams coming up. I'm glad we got the kinks out tonight and hopefully we'll be ready against Denver. We will be ready."
The Warriors maintained a half-game lead over Denver for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and moved within a half-game of Dallas for seventh place. Golden State's next two games are against those teams, beginning with a trip to Denver on Saturday, then a home game the following night against Dallas.
"They're all critical," Nelson said. "This was the game at hand, so this was the most important game of the season. The next game will be the same and that's the way we're trying to approach it."
The Warriors caught a lucky break when Portland All-Star guard Brandon Roy stayed home to nurse a sore groin.
Golden State broke this game open with a dominant third quarter, where its aggressiveness on offense paid off with 20 free throw attempts in the quarter. The Warriors made 18 of them after not going to the line once in the first half. They also shot 9-for-13 from the field, turned the ball over only once and outscored the Blazers 40-20 to take a 91-72 lead into the fourth period.
"You've got to contain them, move your feet and force them to shoot over the top," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "They didn't run a lot of plays, but whoever got the ball penetrated. In situations like that you've got to contain them. We've just got to get better at guarding the ball."
The big third quarter allowed Nelson to rest star point guard Baron Davis for the entire fourth quarter in hopes of keeping him fresh for this weekend's big games.
PISTONS 85, HEAT 69, at Auburn Hills, Mich. -- Rookie Arron Afflalo had career highs of 15 points and seven rebounds as Detroit clinched the Central Division title. Detroit came in having lost three of four.
NUGGETS 118, MAVERICKS 105, at Denver -- Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points and sparked the decisive run in the third quarter of the Nuggets' win over the sliding Mavericks. Allen Iverson added 31 points for the Nuggets, who won their fourth consecutive game. The Nuggets' grand night was capped when forward Nene entered the game with 1:17 left, marking his return to the court 2½ months after surgery to remove a malignant testicular tumor, and just over a month after undergoing chemotherapy.
TIP-INS -- SuperSonics forward Chris Wilcox will miss the remainder of the season with a dislocated finger on his right hand. ... Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy (groin) will miss the next three games.