Stephen Curry says Mark Jackson just protecting his players

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Mark Jackson had to know he sounded like a hypocrite saying the Nuggets were being too physical with his players. Jackson was the guy who sent out his players to commit hard fouls on Rockets players when Houston threatened to set a record for most three pointers in one game. This is Mark Jackson, former 1990s Knicks point guard. He knows what playoff basketball is like.

But Jackson is a coach now and his role is to protect his star players and work the referees a little, so he came out after the Warriors loss to the Nuggets in Game 5 Tuesday and said Denver had sent “hit men” after his players.

Stephen Curry appreciated his coach having his back.

Curry went on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio channel with host Adam Schein and appreciated what his coach did.

“For sure, you appreciate your coach sticking up for you and his opinion. You don’t know what his motives were, if he [was] just trying to get his voice out there in the series as to what should be looked at. We have a big game coming up, Game 6 at home, to try to close this thing out. He spoke about it, I’m sure it’s going to be talked about, but in our locker room we’re not worried about nitpicking those plays that he was talking about. We’re just going to make the adjustments that we need to make on the defensive end and get back to winning ways hopefully in Game 6.

So Curry, you think some of those players were dirty?

“Um, there was a couple of plays in the first quarter where you started initiating a play and you’re not involved with it and kinda elbows come out of nowhere and he’s chucking cuts and things like that, which, that’s playoff basketball. I understand there are going to be some hard fouls and I’m not going to complain or whine about that at all. But there are situations where you notice they are going out of their way to make a point. And we had a couple of flagrant fouls as well. Andrew Bogut hit Faried one time. Draymond Green hit him one time on a rebound. So I’m not going to say they’re the only team making plays. You just gotta go with the flow of the game. Whatever happens, it’s not going to faze me on the court.”

The physical play did faze Golden State for much of Game 5. Golden State needs to get past this and close it out at home on Thursday night, because what they don’t want to do is have to go back to Denver to win a Game 7. The Nuggets aren’t going to lose two in this series at home.

Jared Dudley: Giannis Antetokounmpo practiced mean mugging in locker room

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Game 3 dunk over Aron Baynes was great.

Antetokounmpo’s Game 4 dunk over Al Horford (seen above) is even better, because of the fantastic mean mug that followed.

The rise of Antetokounmpo is no accident. He worked hard to develop his on-court skills. And that includes all aspects.

Suns forward Jared Dudley, who played with Antetokounmpo on the 2014-15 Bucks:

This is the inside info we need.

Report: Knicks are Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer’s top choice for job

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Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer withdrew from the Suns coaching search, but that he was even involved with another opening while under contract with Atlanta is telling. It probably wasn’t about the Phoenix job being special. He’s also talking with the Knicks – and maybe that goes somewhere.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Mike Budenholzer is genuinely interested in the Knicks’ job, according to an NBA source who has spoken to the Hawks coach.

“New York’s his top choice,’’ the NBA source said. “If they offered him the job, he’d say yes. He wants to live in New York.’’

“Phoenix and the Knicks are trying to win every game,’’ said the NBA source who has spoken to Budenholzer recently. “There’s a good chance Atlanta is not looking to win games the next two years. This wasn’t Mike’s decision. He didn’t expect it. He doesn’t want to lose games.’’

Going to the Knicks to win? What a time to be alive.

But the Hawks are only one year into what appears to be a multi-year rebuild. Relative to that, New York is ahead.

When Kristaps Porzingis returns is the biggest variable. But Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke are all in their primes. Atlanta is much thinner.

The Knicks would probably also offer Budenholzer a raise and the Hawks compensation. Though dealing with James Dolan carries downside, this could be a financial boon to everyone else involved. It’s no wonder Budenholzer and the Hawks are both into this.

The big question is whether New York, which is casting a wide net, tabs Budenholzer. He doesn’t have a clear connection to Knicks president Steve Mills or general manager Scott Perry. But Budenholzer is a demonstrably good coach, and that ought to matter plenty.

Andrew Bogut signs to play in NBL in native Australia

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Back in January, the Los Angeles Lakers waived Andrew Bogut. He had a very limited role on a Los Angeles team that was not making the playoffs, serving as a backup big man against teams who use a traditional center. That’s not much of a role anymore. He’s a center who can pass, shoot from the midrange a little, and knows where to be defensively, but the game has evolved as Bogut’s skills have faded. Bogut tried to latch on with a contender for the playoffs, but could not find a team to take him.

So he is going home.

Bogut is signing to play for the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL.

Bogut was the first No. 1 draft pick from Australia when he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005. He made the All-Rookie team that season, was All-NBA in 2010, but may be best known for his role as a crucial part of the defense of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors in 2015 (and his injury during the 2016 Finals is an underrated reason Cleveland was able to pull off a miracle comeback).

At age 33 Bogut may not have a spot in the NBA, but in the NBL he both will thrive for a few more years but also be a huge draw and get the welcome home from fans that he deserves.

When Lance Stephenson gets a traveling call, he earns it (VIDEO)

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Yes, guys get away with traveling in the NBA. James Harden on the step back (sometimes, not always), or guys sliding left/right to avoid a closeout at the arc and not bothering to dribble while they do it.

Lance Stephenson got called for traveling Sunday in the Pacers’ loss to the Cavaliers. In a game where Stephenson got under the skin of LeBron James and drew a technical (and tied him up for a jump ball at one point), this was the best Lance highlight of the game. Because if you’re going to travel, you should go all in.

Never change Lance. Never change.