The Nuggets avoided elimination with their Game 5 win over the Warriors, but the way they went about it didn’t sit well at all with Golden State’s head coach, Mark Jackson.
Denver was physical throughout the night, but especially so with Stephen Curry, who has been torching the Nuggets the entire series. He was held to just 15 points on 7-of-19 shooting in this one, and made just one of his seven attempts from three-point distance.
Jackson pulled no punches during his postgame press conference in explaining how he viewed the Nuggets’ tactics.
“They were the more physical team,” he said. “They were the aggressor. They hurt us in the first half by scoring the basketball, points in the paint. Made us pay for our turnovers. They tried to send hit men on Steph. But give them credit. It wasn’t cocky basketball; they outplayed us. It wasn’t magic; they outplayed us.”
When asked to elaborate on his “hit men” comment, Jackson was happy to do so.
“There were some dirty plays early,” he said. “It’s playoff basketball. That’s alright. We own it. But make no mistake about it, we went up 3-1 playing hard, physical, clean basketball, not trying to hurt anybody.”
Asked specifically to identify the dirty plays he was talking about, Jackson initially said he didn’t want to get into specifics, before then bringing up a play that particularly caught his attention. More troubling, however, was Jackson’s assertion that some Nuggets players admitted to him that something intentional was indeed going on in terms of their team’s dirty play.
“The screen on Curry by the foul line is a shot at his ankle, clearly,” he said. “That can’t be debated. I’ve got inside information that some people don’t like that brand of basketball, and they clearly didn’t co-sign it. So they wanted to let me know that they had no parts in what was taking place.”
Here’s the play Jackson was referring to (via Ben Hochman of The Denver Post), and he’s right — it’s pretty clear that Kenneth Faried intentionally takes a shot at Curry’s ankle.
Now, part of all this is Jackson setting the stage for Game 6 back at Oracle Arena on Thursday. His star player was manhandled, so he wants to be on record as saying the plays were dirty to get the attention of the officials in hopes that things are watched a little more closely next time.
But he also seems to believe what he’s selling.
“Let the best team win,” Jackson said. “And let everybody — with the exception of going down because of a freak injury — let everybody leave out of here healthy. That’s not good basketball.”