The boss is not a boss. Nuggets coach George Karl denied allegations Wednesday that his players were "hit men" in Denver's Game 5 victory Tuesday night against the Golden State Warriors. In the aftermath of Warriors coach Mark Jackson accusing the Nuggets of playing "dirty" and putting "hit men" on star guard Stephen Curry, Karl responded by saying, "I know my integrity — I guarantee you, I never, ever wanted to hurt anybody in basketball, but I do want my team to compete and play hard. ... My basic reaction is, he's watching a different movie than I'm watching." The Nuggets rattled Curry, holding him to 15 points in a 107-100 victory at the Pepsi Center. Denver trails Golden State 3-2 in the first-round, best-of-seven playoff series, with Game 6 on Thursday night in Oakland, Calif. It's the biggest game of the season for the third-seeded Nuggets and arguably the biggest game for Karl since the 2009 Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. "Sustaining the defense is probably the No. 1 important thing for me," Karl said. "I don't think we can win the series if we don't get better defensively." As for Jackson, he wasn't backing down on his "hit men" stance Wednesday, telling reporters in Oakland that Denver's Kenneth Faried took "a stab" at Curry's tender ankle during a first-quarter play. Curry was running through the lane with 8:28 left in the first quarter when he stumbled next to Faried. The Nuggets forward was called for a foul. Viewed on replay, it's unclear whether it was blatant tripping or not. Faried denied trying to hurt Curry, who is leading all scorers in the series with a 24.8-point average. "I thought they were mad about the shoulder, honestly," Faried said Wednesday, implying that his primary contact with Curry on the play was with his right shoulder. "I wasn't going for his ankle at all. I wasn't trying to. I wasn't even thinking about his ankle, honestly. I forgot it was injured. But he walked through, and I was just giving him a bump, like, 'Hey, we're not going to let you have that type of night you've been having.' I was just being physical." Jackson caught flak Wednesday from the national media, not only for his comments after the game but for previous comments he made, such as a March 7 interview he did with ESPN in which he was asked how he would have defended Curry when he played. Jackson told ESPN that he was "old school" and would have been extremely aggressive imposing his will against Curry. Karl brought up the March 7 interview Wednesday, as did Jackson. "I can live with physical basketball. Taking a stab at Steph Curry's ankle is not physical basketball," Jackson said. "You can hit him — I was even on tape and asked what would happen if I played against him and he heated up, and I said I'd be physical with him. That's understandable, it's not hypocritical. There's no part of me that said I'd be dirty with him."
Nuggets coach George Karl, Warriors coach Mark Jackson in war of words
Denver Post | May 2