Stephen Curry, Eric Lewis, Tony Brothers

Report: Nuggets players were calling Stephen Curry “soft”

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Let’s start by saying you should take this with a grain of salt — it’s Warriors sources talking about what Nuggets players are saying. That has spin written all over it.

But the Nuggets ratcheted up the physical play in Game 5 so you can connect the dots with what Tim Kawakami wrote at the San Jose Mercury News.

And where there are on-court taunts and messages sent, including, according to Warriors sources, Nuggets players repeatedly telling Curry that he was a soft player.

Denver went home down 3-1 and decided to turn what had been a fun 1980s throwback series (all we needed was Don Nelson in a fish tie) into playoff basketball — they decided to get physical.

Which is exactly what they should have done. Probably sooner. Stephen Curry has been fantastic in this series, destroying the Nuggets while seemingly hitting every shot he took inside the half court line. Denver had to start making him uncomfortable and unsettled.

It worked. Curry was 7-of-19 shooting for 15 points.

Would the Nuggets have talked some trash and said Curry was soft during this? Maybe. More than saying it, their play showed that thought he might be and so they went at him harder. Welcome to the playoffs.

Mark Jackson doesn’t have to like it, he can work the refs all he wants through the media, but Denver wasn’t really that physical with Curry. He got bumped and pushed a little, but I didn’t see anything dirty in there. I saw playoff basketball.

I also don’t think Curry is soft. I think he bounces back with a vengeance in Game 6.

DeMarcus Cousins says Mavericks’ rumored interest flatters him, but he loves Kings

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) receives a blow to the head from Dallas Mavericks' Dwight Powell as Cousins works to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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The Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in DeMarcus Cousins took its most direct public turn before the season, when Dallas signed Cousins’ brother, Jaleel Cousins. Jaleel is now on the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate, and I bet he will remain there as DeMarcus approaches 2018 free agency.

Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News:

So, DeMarcus Cousins, what do you think about the Mavericks’ long-rumored interest in acquiring you?

“It’s flattering,” Cousins told me, with a laugh, after the Kings’ Wednesday shootaround at AAC. Then, turning serious, he added of the Mavericks, “I respect them.”

“But,” I said, “I’ve also heard that you like it in Sacramento.”

“No,” Cousins corrected, “I love Sacramento.”

Cousins is getting good at this, toeing the line between appreciating another team’s interest and expressing his satisfaction with the Kings.

And give Cousins credit. He keeps producing at a star level for a team that hasn’t provided him with the proper support. Sacramento again appears headed toward the lottery, even as Cousins averages 29-10.

Questions remain, though: How much of Cousins’ attitude is him trying to make the best of an inescapable situation, and will expanded options in the summer of 2018 test his loyalty?

LeBron James dunks, struts past camerapeople and toward crowd, spooks fan (video)

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LeBron James is dominating, and the Cavaliers are rolling over the Knicks.

It’s almost as if something has LeBron particularly riled up. But maybe ease up a little? That cowering fan isn’t Phil Jackson.

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.