Malone: Game 6 skirmish just ‘playoff basketball’

DENVER — Nuggets coach Michael Malone dismissed the notion that a shoving match between Denver’s Will Barton and Portland’s Seth Curry in Game 6 might carry over into Game 7 on Sunday at Pepsi Center, especially after the Trail Blazers guard called the Nuggets “sassy.”

“To me, that’s weak,” Malone said Saturday, addressing the fourth-quarter incident that led to technical fouls being called on four players. “If that’s chippiness, I mean … I grew up in a much different time in the NBA. If that’s chippiness and you want to call it ‘sassy,’ go ahead. But to me, it’s a joke.”

Curry said Barton poked him in the eye Thursday as the two were being separated following some back-and-forth shoving. After the game, the Trail Blazers guard said the Nuggets “got a few sassy dudes over there,” adding that they are “front-runners”.

Curry took exception to Barton standing above Portland’s Zach Collins, who had just fallen toward Barton’s knees after an offensive foul on Denver’s Nikola Jokic. Curry nudged Barton away and Barton shoved Curry. The two were separated before Barton pointed into Curry’s face. Collins and Denver’s Torrey Craig then got into it, and all four were assessed offsetting technical fouls.

“It’s Will Barton protecting himself from a guy falling into his knees,” said Malone, whose father was an assistant during the Detroit Pistons‘ “Bad Boys” days. “It’s Seth Curry taking offense to it. They get into a little minor skirmish — move on. Game 7 will be hard-fought. It will be emotional because of what’s at stake. I don’t think it’s going to be a carry-over from what happened in last game. It’s playoff basketball. It should be a hard-fought game. It should be physical. It should be teams protecting each other.

“Again, that’s a different era when you think about my father when he was with the ‘Bad Boys’ and all that. That [incident in Game 6] was nothing in my opinion.”

Denver forward Paul Millsap does expect emotions to be high in Game 7 with a spot in the Western Conference finals on the line.

“I expect it to be an all-out brawl,” Millsap said. “They’re fighting for their lives. We’re fighting for our lives. I expected it to be pretty heated. Emotions will flare here and there. The team that’s the most poised and the most calm is going to be the team that’s victorious. Hopefully it’s us.”

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