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OAKLAND — For a no-excuse coach, Mark Jackson sure had lots of excuses after the Warriors lost to Denver on Tuesday night.

Read what Jackson said after Game 5. He was referring to a hard foul Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried laid on Stephen Curry. Jackson thought Faried intentionally went after Curry's ankle:

"I've got inside information," Jackson said, "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 part in what was taking place." He also said the Nuggets sent "hit men" at Curry — "hit men" is plural.

Jackson makes two provocative points. 1) The Nuggets played dirty in the game, and they did it continually. 2) Someone who matters, almost surely a Nuggets player or assistant coach there on the court, didn't approve.

If you can interpret Jackson's words another way, please tell me.

On Wednesday, Jackson and players made themselves available to the media. Jackson reiterated Faried's play was dirty.

Someone asked if that was the only dirty play by Denver. Jackson said, "If Steph Curry's running through the lane early in the first quarter and Kenneth Faried chucks him — (Curry) doesn't have the basketball — that's not a clean play, but it's a playoff play. So I'm not complaining about that.

"If you go to his ankles while he's cutting through the lane, that's not a basketball play. As simple as that. Can't be debated. Don't address all the other plays. Show that one play, and then address that." Jackson also said of that play, "That's the one that stood out to me."

In other words, Jackson's postgame snit, his assertion of hit men, amounted to one play in 48 minutes of a hard-fought and passionate game.

I asked Curry if he thinks Faried intentionally played the hit man on him.

"I got pretty fiery back at Faried," Curry said. "If I don't have the ball, you don't expect it to happen. I just wanted to let it be known I wasn't going to accept it. I looked at the film afterwards. Our feet kind of tangled up a little bit, but I don't know what his intentions were."

Interesting. Jackson's hit men now have devolved into a possible accidental tangling of the legs on one occasion, and Curry isn't "worried about it." Jackson's first excuse — that the Nuggets are thugs — pretty much has vanished.

I want to address his second point, that some people didn't co-sign on that "brand of basketball," and "had no part in what was taking place."

Jackson and I discussed this.

I asked: "Someone told you?"

Jackson said: "This is not the kind of basketball that they co-sign."

"Meaning someone on Denver?"

"I'm not getting into it. Somebody that knows."

"In fact, you were the guys called for two flagrant fouls last night, not them."

"That doesn't mean you're dirty. I've seen flagrant fouls called. But when you intentionally attempt to kick somebody as they're going through the lane, that's not a basketball play."

Where does this bit of dialog leave the interested observer? Someone said the Nuggets played dirty. And that was a darned shame. Jackson wouldn't say who made the remark, or if the person is connected to the Nuggets. Who is this person? For all we know, Jackson's wife refused to co-sign the document.

Read all of the PD's fire coverage here

And then No-Excuse Jackson arrowed in on his second big excuse. "Steph Curry is a star basketball player," Jackson said. "He's on the floor for 42 minutes against a team whose game plan is to be physical with him, and he does not get to the foul line. Unheard of."

Jackson had a point. It's weird Curry didn't shoot foul shots. The way I understand the English language, Jackson was saying the refs were to blame. Drawing the same conclusion, someone asked if Jackson was dissatisfied with the officiating.

"I didn't say anything about the referees," he insisted. "Please don't put words in my mouth. I don't make excuses."

Wasn't that ref thing an excuse? I mean, come on. So, the no-excuse coach used two excuses — dirty play and crummy refs. But he doesn't make excuses. Nuggets coach George Karl outcoached him in Game 5, changed his lineup and jumped out to a big lead and won. Maybe Jackson is trying to rationalize that with side issues.

And there's something else. It has been written Denver players called Curry soft during the game. Curry is soft. Not a wimp. Not a weenie, but soft for an NBA player.

All the pushing by the Nuggets plus calling him names put him off his game. He scored 15 points, pitiful for him. That seems soft. And he's not a robust defender. That's why the Warriors brought in Jarrett Jack, to be the enforcer in the backcourt, to guard the opponent's best offensive guard. That's why the Warriors brought in Andrew Bogut, to be the enforcer they never had.

After the game, Curry got into it with a fan, although he never got into it with the Nuggets. Soft?

When Jackson needs to stand up for Curry, needs to complain how the Nuggets and officials rudely treated his star guard, that makes Curry seem even softer — he cannot stand up for himself on the court like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Walt Frazier — I could go on.

Don't get me wrong. The Warriors are the better team and should close out Denver in Game 6. But be clear about what happened. When the Warriors lost a tough game, No-Excuse Jackson reached for a trunk-load of excuses real fast.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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