Mark Jackson, Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry says Mark Jackson just protecting his players


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.

Jimmy Butler wants Mason Plumlee to pay fine after scuffle (video)


Jimmy Butler and Mason Plumlee got into an altercation in the Bulls’ win over the Trail Blazers last night.

Plumlee lowered his head and tried to barrel through Butler’s chest on a Butler screen. Butler fell and retaliated by putting Plumlee in a leg lock, causing Plumlee to fall.

You might remember a leg lock as what Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova did to Bulls forward Taj Gibson during last year’s playoffs. For all the talk then of Dellavedova being a dirty player, Butler seems particularly aggrieved after getting a technical foul, which comes with a $2,500 fine – the same penalty Dellavedova eventually received. (Plumlee got a flagrant foul.)

Butler, via Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago:

“He thought he was playing football for a second there,” Butler said. “Almost had to let the Fort Greene Projects out of me, Brooklyn, you know what I’m saying?”

It was said tongue in cheek considering Gibson was a few feet over and Butler wanted to draw some laughs. Gibson is a Brooklyn native and grew up in the Fort Greene Projects while Butler grew up in Tomball, Texas.

It was no laughing matter when he said he would find a way to approach Plumlee about the fine money, jokingly suggesting he would have his agent email him at “Mr. or something” and made a joke about Mike Dunleavy applauding Plumlee’s act.

Plumlee and Dunleavy are products of Duke University.

“Yeah, he cost me 2,500,” Butler said. “I’m not happy about that. Gonna ask him to pay me back and I’m not playing.”

Is that, or Or is it Dookie?

These are important questions – at least if you’re trying to turn the conversation away from your dirty play and toward your colorful quotes.

Breaking news: Leandro Barbosa dunked


The Warriors became the first team in NBA history to start 16-0.

In the process of getting that record-breaking win over the Lakers, something nearly as historic happened.

Leandro Barbosa dunked.

The 32-year-old Golden State guard last jammed in January 2011.

For a little more perspective, look how Barbosa handled a breakaway layup earlier in the fourth quarter:

You think that man can still slam?

Yes. Yes, he can.

Magic benching Victor Oladipo, starting Channing Frye

Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Channing Frye
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Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic have started eight of the Magic’s 14 games, including the last three.

But after Orlando dropped two straight, Scott Skiles hinted at lineup changes.

The Magic coach will deliver against the Knicks tonight, swapping Channing Frye for Oladipo.

Skiles, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.

“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”

Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the

  • Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
  • New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8

The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.

I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.

If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.

At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.

This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.

Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs

Dwight Howard
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The 5-9 Houston Rockets need some wins.

The Houston Rockets have a back-to-back coming up, Sunday against the Knicks then Monday against the Pistons (both on the road). Two teams with quality big men.

Combine those things and you end up with Dwight Howard being re-evaluated by team doctors and getting the training wheels taken off, via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

This, plus a mini training camp the past few days, is part of new coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s effort to turn Houston’s season around.

Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.