Birdman better, Nuggets still upset by Mavs fans
AP Sports Writer
DENVER, Colorado ” The Denver Nuggets returned from Dallas with a bad taste in their mouths and it had nothing to do with Chris “Birdman” Andersen’s nasty case of food poisoning.
Andersen said between bites of mashed potatoes Tuesday that he’s recovered from his sour stomach that kept him out of the Nuggets’ 119-117 loss to the Mavericks the previous night.
“I feel really good now,” Andersen said after getting additional IVs and shooting some baskets.
He said he can’t wait for Game 5 Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center when the Nuggets try to clinch their first trip to the Western Conference Finals in 24 years.
His teammates are equally eager to take out their frustrations on the basketball court.
They’re upset with the way their families and friends were treated Monday night at American Airlines Center, where fans hurled insults at Kenyon Martin’s girlfriend, rap star Trina, and where Carmelo Anthony’s girlfriend, LaLa Vazquez of MTV fame, was removed from her seat by security guards for her safety.
Fans also got into shouting matches with Martin’s mother, who had extra protection around her after Mavericks owner Mark Cuban called her son a thug following the frenetic finish in Game 3.
“I think all of us are kind of angry about … the treatment we got in Dallas,” Nuggets coach George Karl said Tuesday. “And we want our home crowd to be with us and … we want to show them that we owe them a game.”
On Tuesday, Cuban apologized for yelling at Martin’s mother, Lydia Moore, and suggested things had gotten out of hand. But his apology was brushed aside by the Nuggets because it contained an offer that they could all sit in his suite with his own family “when the series comes back to Dallas.”
“We don’t plan on going back to Dallas,” retorted Chauncey Billups.
Cuban also offered to take Martin and his mother out for dinner this summer.
Dinner in Dallas is a sore subject with the Nuggets right now.
Andersen said he ate something bad at the team hotel Monday that left him doubled over in the locker room during the game with severe abdominal cramps and vomiting.
The Nuggets sorely missed their energetic center as Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki scored a series-high 44 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to help the Mavericks stave off elimination.
Without the “Birdman” swatting away passes and making things tough on Nowitzki in the paint, Dallas outrebounded the Nuggets 50-34 and Denver managed just seven second-chance points.
With all the talk of hostile treatment in Dallas, Andersen isn’t alleging sabotage.
“Nope. I’m actually going to have some fresh legs,” he said. “I’m just real anxious to get out there on the floor and give it everything I’ve got.”
Billups, who said his wife also got into a confrontation Monday night, acknowledged the Nuggets were worried about what was happening in the stands.
“It’s a distraction. You get your family to travel and try to support you ” it’s the only support that you have in the arena ” but you’ve got to worry about their safety and their well-being,” Billups said. “And that’s not right.”
Billups added that “families should always be off-limits. They’re coming to enjoy the game, support their loved ones.”
The Mavericks took Tuesday off and Martin, who exchanged words with Cuban as he left the court after the game, didn’t speak with reporters following the team’s short film session Tuesday. But Billups called Cuban’s apology inadequate.
“No, that’s unacceptable, man. That’s just not right. You’re the owner of a team. You’re held at a different standard as far as professionalism,” Billups said. “Yeah, you can root for your team, but that’s just not right. That’s not acceptable.”
Cuban is skipping Game 5 to be at an awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
Although he’s counting on the series returning to Dallas, no NBA team has ever recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series and no team has beaten Denver at the Pepsi Center since March 11.
“The pressure is on them to win the series,” Jason Kidd said. “We don’t have any pressure.”
Billups chuckled at the notion.
“We can still afford to lose,” he said. “They can’t.”