Accusations of dirty play were exchanged after the Denver Nuggets beat the Golden State Warriors 107-100 on Tuesday to avoid elimination from the NBA playoffs.
Needing a win to stay alive, the Nuggets played tough basketball, with fiery forward Kenneth Faried at the center of the action. Denver cut the series deficit to 3-2, sending it back to Oakland for Game 6 today.
Also on Tuesday, the Memphis Grizzlies won 103-93 against the Los Angeles Clippers to take a 3-2 lead in their series.
Denver slowed down Golden State’s guards, jumpstarted their transition game and got under Andrew Bogut’s skin in Game 5, jumping out to a 22-point lead before weathering the Warriors’ frenetic fourth-quarter rally.
Warriors coach Mark Jackson accused the Nuggets of trying to hurt Stephen Curry, his injured sharpshooter, who was just one for seven from long range and finished with a series-low 15 points.
“Some dirty plays early,” Jackson said. “It’s playoff basketball, that’s all right. We own it, but make no mistake about it, we went up 3-1 playing hard, physical, clean basketball — not trying to hurt anybody.”
Jackson mentioned Faried setting some “great screens and some great illegal ones, too.”
“He did his job. Hey, I played with guys like that. They get paid to do that. Dale Davis, Anthony Davis, Charles Oakley. You get paid to do it. So give them credit,” Jackson said. “As an opposing coach, I see it, and I’m trying to protect my guys.”
Jackson complained about one screen in particular on Curry being “a shot at his ankle, clearly. That can’t be debated.”
“I got inside information that some people don’t like that brand of basketball and they clearly didn’t co-sign it. They wanted to let me know they have no parts in what was taking place. Let the best team win and let everybody with the exception of going down with a freak injury, let everybody leave out of here healthy. That’s not good basketball,” he added.
“It’s basketball,” Faried countered. “I try to do the little things my team needs me to do. It’s physical. If you can’t stand the physicality, you shouldn’t be playing.”
Asked about accusations he tried to hurt Curry, Faried said: “That’s intriguing because I think they were purposefully trying to hurt me every play I went for a rebound — the hits, the grab to the throat.”
Curry said there were a few plays that went overboard.
“There were a couple, man. Going through the paint minding my own business and they come out of nowhere trying to throw elbows,” he said. “I got a [target] on me, I don’t know what it is, just got to keep playing and do your thing.”
The Nuggets said they were surprised the Warriors were the ones complaining about physical play.
“I’ve taken the hardest hit in the series, Game 1 or 2, when Bogut leaned in to me on a screen and I didn’t remember what happened the rest of the game,” Denver’s Andre Iguodala said. “They kind of brought the physicality to the series and we stopped being the receivers and we’re starting to hit back a little bit, but as far as anybody trying to cheap shot, I don’t condone that myself. It’s not my game.”
Faried said he has been beat up all series long.
“I’m surprised [that] tonight I didn’t get my hair pulled like before,” Faried said. “It’s all good. If we’re playing dirty, hey, it’s basketball. We’re just playing physical.”
“It’s the series, it’s physical, whether they’re taking cheap shots or not we need to match that physicality,” Bogut added.
“A couple of them could have been cheap shots. I thought Steph got cheat shot one time, he got a bloody nose. It’s not acceptable, but we’ve got to match that,” Klay Thompson said. “We can’t let it get in our heads, just do what we did in the second half.”
Andre Iguodala had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Nuggets, Ty Lawson had 19 points and 10 assists, while Faried had 13 points and 10 boards.
Stephen Curry finished one of seven from three and scored 15 for the Warriors. Harrison Barnes led Golden State with 23 points.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Memphis moved within one win of a spot in the next round of the playoffs by beating the LA Clippers 103-93.
Zach Randolph scored 10 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies capitalized on Blake Griffin’s ankle injury.
Mike Conley added 20 points for the Grizzlies, who will try to wrap it up tomorrow at home.
The Pacific Division champions, who won their last seven games of the regular season to clinch home-court advantage for the first two rounds, would force a deciding seventh game on Sunday back at the Staples Center if they win in Memphis.
Chris Paul led Los Angeles with 35 points, tying a career playoff high.