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DENVER, CO. - APRIL 20: Golden State Warriors power forward Carl Landry (7) during the fourth 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 AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

DENVER -- Nuggets coach George Karl certainly remembers the last time the Warriors played without David Lee in the lineup. Stephen Curry went for 54 points at Madison Square Garden.

"That was incredibly scary," Karl said. "Curry was fantastic."

The Warriors played loose and free that Feb. 27 night in New York and gave the Knicks all they could handle despite losing 109-105. It isn't lost on Karl that Game 2 could be a similar environment for the Warriors.

Few gave Golden State a chance to win this first-round series when at full strength. Now with Lee sidelined by a hip injury, many doubt that the Warriors can win a game. Certainly, no jaw will drop if they're blown out at the Pepsi Center on Tuesday.

But Golden State is completely comfortable in the land of the doubted, as evidenced by the we've-got-something-for-you smile on the players' faces at Monday's practice. The pressure's completely off the Warriors, which perhaps makes them a bit dangerous.

"People were counting us out before Lee got hurt," forward Carl Landry said, adding a hearty laugh. "It's nothing new to us. It just fuels our fire."

Denver seems to be expecting a close game. Several from that camp are banking on the Warriors' top players to take it up a notch.

"I think Curry and Klay Thompson are going to be a lot more aggressive," Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson said. "And Jarrett Jack."

Curry confirmed his aggression levels will be raised. The Nuggets have trapped Curry early in possessions and on pick-and-rolls. They've defended him with bigger and more athletic players such as swingmen Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer.

The goal -- be physical with Curry, make him give up the ball or create shots off the dribble in traffic.

"I expect the same thing," Curry said. "I'm going to try to get to the basket a little more early, hopefully to get my rhythm. I want to try to get to the foul line a little more. I've got to draw some fouls and be aggressive."

It figures to be harder for Curry without Lee, which allows the Nuggets to focus more on stopping Curry. Landry said he hopes so and flashed his version of the we've-got-something-for-you smile.

Golden State seems convinced it has the weapons to collectively make up for Lee. In the Warriors' visit here in January, rookie forward Harrison Barnes put up 21 points and six rebounds.

On Monday, rookie forward Draymond Green was working on his corner 3-pointer before practice. Coach Mark Jackson even hinted at dusting off veterans Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins.

"It's going to tough with Lee gone, but we're going to have to make up for his absence," Barnes said. "If the shot is there, you've got to take it. You also have to make the extra pass, set the screen and do the little things that help you win games in playoff basketball."

Said Jackson: "Were a team that has faced adversity. For the bulk of the season, we lost two of our best five players. We lost Brandon Rush basically for the season, and Andrew Bogut wasn't with us for a lot of the season.

"Now with David going down, it's unfortunate. ... That being said, from Day 1 we talked about being a no-excuse basketball team. Now is the opportunity for guys to step up."

The Warriors are hoping to make up for Lee's absence with energy, defense and the grittiness with which they played most of the season. And to let the Nuggets tell it, they're expecting the Warriors to do just that.

"Normally, guys tend to step up even more," said Nuggets guard Andre Miller, the hero from Game 1. "It's not going to be easy. They're going to work even harder. It's going to be a tougher game."

Curry was asked before practice if he thought he needed to have a big game. He went on to give his safe answer. If he got the shot, he would take it. If the pass were there, he would pass it. He trusts his teammates. They have a lot of weapons. Yada, yada, yada.

"I'm just going to be aggressive," he said. Then he smiled, as if to say, "We've got something for you."