NBA Playoffs: Utah scores at will against Denver, takes 2-1 series lead

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The Nuggets got out to an early lead against the Utah Jazz on Friday, taking a 27-21 lead after the first quarter behind 10 points by Chauncey Billups. They were running their offense, they were hitting their shots, and they even managed to keep the Utah crowd quiet.

Then Paul Millsap showed up, and things got very bad very fast for the Nuggets. Millsap went 8-8 from the field in the second quarter, with most of his points coming from finding seams in the Denver defense and taking the ball right at the basket. The Jazz took a four-point lead into halftime. They stretched the lead to 10 early in the third quarter, and never looked back. 
The Jazz looked like a team who’s had the same coach for 22 years, and the Nuggets looked like a team struggling to get by with an interim coach. They didn’t have enough energy on defense. They got sloppy on offense, losing the turnover battle 14-7 and getting out-assisted 27-12. They folded when Utah took the lead and the crowd got going. The Nuggets didn’t execute at either end of the floor, and that’s what killed them on Friday. 
The Nugget bigs had a terrible game, going 2-11 from the field against a thin and undersized Utah frontline. Anthony and Billups accounted for 25 points each, but no other Nugget was able to score in double figures. Affalo only got two shots. Smith went 3-9. Ty Lawson was able to beat the Jazz in the open court a few times and was the only Nuggets rotation player with a positive +/-, but it wasn’t enough. 
Deron Williams and Paul Millsap were brilliant for the Jazz, combining for 46 points on 19-28 shooting from the field. (Millsap also added 19 rebounds.) Kyle Korver had a mark of +22 in 25 minutes and had more assists than any player on the Jazz. 
You can break this game down all you want, but at the end of the day the Jazz played like they had a purpose and the Nuggets didn’t. The Nuggets are likely one of the two most talented teams in the conference. If they don’t start playing like there’s something at stake, they could easily find themselves in a 3-1 hole when they fly back to Denver. 

Kevin Love drips snot all over his face, maybe into his mouth (video)

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Cameras zoomed in on Kevin Love at the wrong moment:

Need a sensory cleanser? Enjoy this fantastic outlet pass from Kevin Love to LeBron James:

Derrick Rose out for Knicks-Cavaliers with back injury, getting MRI

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 22:  Derrick Rose #25 of the New York Knicks dribbles against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Madison Square Garden on November 22, 2016 in New York City.   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 Al Bello/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — Derrick Rose is missing the New York Knicks’ game against Cleveland because of lower back pain.

Rose left the Knicks’ victory over Miami on Tuesday in the third quarter with back spasms. Coach Jeff Hornacek says Rose still felt sore on Wednesday when he came in and met with team doctors, so they sent him for an MRI exam to make sure there was no structural damage.

Rose is averaging 16.7 points and this is the first game he’s missed this season.

Brandon Jennings will start in Rose’s place.

Jaylen Brown dunks on Nikola Vucevic, who literally hides his face afterward (video)

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Nikola Vucevic probably just got poked in the eye, but I prefer to believe he’s ashamed of getting dunked on by Jaylen Brown (which is no great sin, anyway).

Matt Barnes and DeMarcus Cousins sued over New York nightclub fight

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 28: DeMarcus Cousins #15 and Matt Barnes #22 of the Sacramento Kings talk on the floor against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on November 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. 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 Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Matt Barnes – with Kings teammate DeMarcus Cousins seen out with him – was involved in an altercation at a New York nightclub early Monday morning.

Other details remain contentious.

Barnes’ representatives claim he acted in self-defense and paint him as the victim. Other sources – reportedly including a videopaint Barnes as the aggressor.

A court might eventually rule on the situation.

TMZ:

Matt Barnes and DeMarcus Cousins have just been SUED over the nightclub brawl at Avenue in NYC this week … with the alleged victims claiming they were brutalized by the NBA stars.

According to the lawsuit filed in NYC, Jasmine Besiso and Myrone Powell claim they were innocently hanging out when Barnes approached Jasmine and began to choke her.

In the suit, Powell says he saw the attack and tried to intervene but that’s when Cousins stepped in and punched him in the face.

At that point, Barnes allegedly released Jasmine’s neck and elbowed her in the face — knocking her unconscious. Myrone claims he was taken to the ground and Barnes and Cousins proceeded to kick and punch him in the head and body.

A rep for the alleged victims calls the incident a “vicious and unprovoked attack” And says Cousins’ initial blow was a “blindside punch.”

The rep also says the two were transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital where they were treated for “serious injuries.”

It’s important to remember there’s no burden of proof for filing a lawsuit. This is not an indication of Barnes’ and Cousins’ liability or guilt. As of last update, police are still investigating, and Barnes’ attorney has said his client was cooperating.