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OAKLAND, Calif. — Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn’t see much passion from his team Saturday.

Golden State better find some fast for Christmas Day, when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come to town for a prime-time holiday rematch of the past three NBA Finals.

Gary Harris scored 19 points to lead a balanced Denver offense and the Nuggets stopped the Warriors’ 11-game winning streak with a second impressive road victory in two nights, beating Golden State 96-81.

“It didn’t feel like we were into it emotionally tonight. Sometimes after a long winning streak, whatever reason, you let your guard down a little bit. It wasn’t there,” Kerr said. “The biggest concern for me tonight, I didn’t see a lot of joy. … We weren’t having much fun.”

Nikola Jokic added 18 points and nine rebounds and Jamal Murray had 14 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Nuggets after their Friday win at Portland. They held the defending NBA champions to a season low for points.

Kevin Durant had 18 points and six rebounds in a particularly poor shooting performance for the typically efficient NBA Finals MVP. He was 6 for 17 and missed all five of his 3-point attempts as the Warriors shot 38.6 percent.

Draymond Green had 10 points, six assists and five rebounds in his second game back after missing five of six with soreness in his right shoulder. He took a sharp elbow to the face from Jokic with 7:27 remaining and went down hard, then was getting X-rays on his left elbow afterward.

Klay Thompson scored 15 for the Warriors but was 6 for 21 overall and 1 of 10 on 3s as Golden State went just 3 for 27 from deep. A night after posting his first career double-double with season bests of 20 points and 10 rebounds, Warriors rookie Jordan Bell contributed seven points and 10 rebounds.

Patrick McCaw’s floater with 7:13 to go pulled Golden State to 82-71, but the Warriors couldn’t do much more to fight back.

“I can’t remember seeing many teams hold that team to 3 of 27 from the 3-point line,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “So it’s a hell of a win for us and it’s going to make Christmas obviously that much merrier.”

The Warriors were sloppy, lacked a flow on offense, looked a step behind most of the night and never got rolling trying to play catch-up much of the evening. Fans headed for the exits with a few minutes left, a rare sight at Oracle Arena.

“When you’re missing shots, you don’t let it affect your defense, but this is a feel-good game,” Durant said. “You want to make shots, that’s what gets us going, that’s what gets the crowd going.”

Golden State has regularly relied on big third quarters this season, and Saturday it couldn’t even muster a strong fourth after going into the final period down 73-62.

It was also the second night of a back-to-back for the Warriors, who beat the Lakers at home on Friday. They fell behind 53-41 at the break Saturday.

Harris had his second strong game after missing one with a bruised elbow.

The Nuggets had lost five straight on Golden State’s home floor dating to a 100-99 win at Oracle on April 10, 2014.

It was an especially slow start for Golden State, which began 6 for 18 — with Durant going 1 for 5 and Thompson missing his initial four shots as the Warriors shot 7 for 21 in the opening quarter.

CURRY UPDATE

Stephen Curry did extensive on-court work during pregame warmups and appeared to be moving well on his sprained right ankle, though the two-time MVP isn’t going to play Monday.

“If we weren’t playing Cleveland on Christmas and I told you Steph hasn’t even played in a 3-on-3 game, hasn’t had any contact at all and the game was 48 hours from now, you would say that `Steph’s not going to play,’ but because it’s the magnitude of the game and everybody wants to know, but we can’t let that affect our judgment,” Kerr said. “He can’t play. It would be completely irresponsible if he did.”

Curry has missed seven straight games.

TIP-INS

Nuggets: Denver capitalized on the Warriors’ mistakes, turning 19 turnovers into 21 points. … Trey Lyles had 15 points and six boards off the bench.
Warriors: Golden State’s 88 points in a 92-88 loss at Boston on Nov. 16 was its previous season low. … C Zaza Pachulia went through what he called a tough workout Saturday morning to test the soreness below his left shoulder and remained hopeful of playing Monday. “We’ll see,” Pachulia said. “I’m going to have another great workout tomorrow.” He missed his seventh consecutive game and eighth in nine. … Shaun Livingston sat out his fourth straight game with a sore right knee but got in a solid pregame workout and looked strong running. … Kerr stuck with his winning starting five from Friday after Golden State used eight different starting lineups over the previous nine games.

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Miami Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler took full responsibility for his three-interception performance in Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

“Three turnovers,” a disappointed Cutler said. “I’m responsible for all three, no matter what the situation was.”

If the past two weeks confirmed anything, it’s that the Dolphins this season closely followed the same inconsistent path of their starting quarterback.

Last week, Cutler was phenomenal. He carved up the defending champion New England Patriots on Monday Night Football to the tune of three touchdowns in a Miami win. When Cutler plays that well, the Dolphins are capable of beating anyone.
A week after throwing three touchdown passes against New England, Jay Cutler tossed three interceptions in a loss to Buffalo. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
However, Cutler took major steps backward on Sunday in what was a must-win game for Miami (6-8). Cutler prevented the Dolphins from making any kind of second-half comeback and all but ended their chances of making the postseason. In addition to the three interceptions, Cutler also had a pair of likely picks dropped by the Bills; and he fumbled four times, as well — although all were recovered by Miami.

After this loss, the best the Dolphins can finish is 8-8 and revert to a spoiler role in the final two weeks.

“It’s a great locker room. I don’t think we’re going to have any issues with guys shutting it down,” Cutler said. “We’ve been in a few games where we’ve been two scores out and guys find ways to go out there and make some plays. As long as they let us play, we’ll be ready.”

Cutler earned the “Good Jay, Bad Jay” moniker for his inconsistency in previous stops with the Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears. We saw some of that this season, which could be his last with Miami.

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The Dolphins must make a decision at quarterback, and Cutler, who was coerced out of retirement to sign a one-year, $10 million contract, doesn’t appear part of the plan. His inconsistency is one of the primary reasons Cutler has a sub-.500 record (74-77) as a starter. The Dolphins cannot afford to go that route for another season — and certainly not at that price.

Miami is more likely to stick with former starter Ryan Tannehill, who is recovering from knee surgery, or go in a different direction via the draft or free agency. The Dolphins have surrounding talent but need a quarterback who is steady on a weekly basis.

The Dolphins rolled the dice and tried the Cutler roller-coaster this season. There were a few highs, such as the victory versus the Patriots last week; but overall, he didn’t take Miami where it wanted to go.

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METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton expressed his astonishment on Twitter after Fox Sports reported Sunday that former Saints whistleblower Mike Cerullo now works for the NFL office. @NFLonFOX @NFL Troubling report by @JayGlazer regarding league hiring of fired @Saints employee. Unbelievable — Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) December 10, 2017 Cerullo, a former defensive assistant for the Saints, provided key evidence to the NFL to kick-start its bounty investigation against the team in 2011, and the Saints dismissed him as a “liar” with a grudge against them for being fired. Cerullo spent the past several years as Princeton’s director of football operations before being hired by the league as a director of football administration this past summer. NFL spokesman Michael Signora said Cerullo works closely with senior vice president of football administration and club services Rod Graves on matters related to club administration and development, as well as supporting efforts involving college all-star games and project management. The Saints, however, are skeptical about Cerullo receiving a perceived reward from the league — especially since they made it clear during the bounty investigation that they felt like he did a poor job in New Orleans. Sean Payton’s behavior toward the officiating crew Thursday in the Saints’ loss to the Falcons is being reviewed by the NFL. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images However, Signora confirmed that Cerullo is not involved with any disciplinary matters that would represent a conflict of interest — such as the review currently taking place into whether Payton should be punished after his Thursday night penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct toward officials. Cerullo, who was not retained by the Saints after the 2009 Super Bowl season, sent the NFL an email in November 2011 calling the Saints a “dirty organization” and saying he had proof that assistant head coach Joe Vitt had lied to the league about the existence of a bounty program. The NFL eventually suspended Payton for one full season and handed out severe punishments to Vitt, general manager Mickey Loomis and the entire organization in the form of fines and lost draft picks. Four players were also initially punished — including a full-year suspension for linebacker Jonathan Vilma — though all of the player punishments were eventually overturned on appeal by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. When asked during those appeal hearings what motivated him to come forward, Cerullo said: “I was angry for being let go from the Saints. … I was angry at Joe Vitt, and I wanted to show that I was fired for lying and I witnessed Joe Vitt lying and he still had a job.” METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton expressed his astonishment on Twitter after Fox Sports reported Sunday that former Saints whistleblower Mike Cerullo now works for the NFL office. @NFLonFOX @NFL Troubling report by @JayGlazer regarding league hiring of fired @Saints employee. Unbelievable — Sean Payton (@SeanPayton) December 10, 2017 Cerullo, a former defensive assistant for the Saints, provided key evidence to the NFL to kick-start its bounty investigation against the team in 2011, and the Saints dismissed him as a “liar” with a grudge against them for being fired. Cerullo spent the past several years as Princeton’s director of football operations before being hired by the league as a director of football administration this past summer. NFL spokesman Michael Signora said Cerullo works closely with senior vice president of football administration and club services Rod Graves on matters related to club administration and development, as well as supporting efforts involving college all-star games and project management. The Saints, however, are skeptical about Cerullo receiving a perceived reward from the league — especially since they made it clear during the bounty investigation that they felt like he did a poor job in New Orleans. Sean Payton’s behavior toward the officiating crew Thursday in the Saints’ loss to the Falcons is being reviewed by the NFL. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images However, Signora confirmed that Cerullo is not involved with any disciplinary matters that would represent a conflict of interest — such as the review currently taking place into whether Payton should be punished after his Thursday night penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct toward officials. Cerullo, who was not retained by the Saints after the 2009 Super Bowl season, sent the NFL an email in November 2011 calling the Saints a “dirty organization” and saying he had proof that assistant head coach Joe Vitt had lied to the league about the existence of a bounty program. The NFL eventually suspended Payton for one full season and handed out severe punishments to Vitt, general manager Mickey Loomis and the entire organization in the form of fines and lost draft picks. Four players were also initially punished — including a full-year suspension for linebacker Jonathan Vilma — though all of the player punishments were eventually overturned on appeal by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. When asked during those appeal hearings what motivated him to come forward, Cerullo said: “I was angry for being let go from the Saints. … I was angry at Joe Vitt, and I wanted to show that I was fired for lying and I witnessed Joe Vitt lying and he still had a job.” Vitt, meanwhile, testified that Cerullo lied about family emergencies while taking two personal leaves of absences during that 2009 season and referenced a time when Payton needed to ask for police protection for his family when he was out of town because he considered Cerullo a threat. Vilma’s attorneys made similar accusations about Cerullo’s work performance. Cerullo later sent a letter to Tagliabue saying he had been “vilified and subjected to slanderous lies” after his name was revealed publicly. And after Cerullo’s name was publicly revealed in September 2012, the NFL released a statement saying he “should be commended for coming forward.” “The information and detail he provided was credible and has since been confirmed in numerous respects both by other witnesses and by supporting documents,” the NFL statement read. “It is unfortunate that some have sought to unfairly attack his integrity rather than give attention to the substance of his declaration.” Vitt, meanwhile, testified that Cerullo lied about family emergencies while taking two personal leaves of absences during that 2009 season and referenced a time when Payton needed to ask for police protection for his family when he was out of town because he considered Cerullo a threat. Vilma’s attorneys made similar accusations about Cerullo’s work performance. Cerullo later sent a letter to Tagliabue saying he had been “vilified and subjected to slanderous lies” after his name was revealed publicly. And after Cerullo’s name was publicly revealed in September 2012, the NFL released a statement saying he “should be commended for coming forward.” “The information and detail he provided was credible and has since been confirmed in numerous respects both by other witnesses and by supporting documents,” the NFL statement read. “It is unfortunate that some have sought to unfairly attack his integrity rather than give attention to the substance of his declaration.”

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t change quarterbacks on Sunday from Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes. They didn’t need to.

Smith looked more like the MVP candidate he was early in the season than the struggling quarterback he’s been in recent weeks. It took him less than five minutes to throw two touchdown passes, or one more than he’d thrown in the last two games combined.

Smith later threw touchdown passes of 79 and 40 yards to Tyreek Hill, and the four TD passes overall allowed him to tie his single-season best of 23, set in his first Chiefs season in 2013. He threw for 366 yards, and also had a 70-yard scramble in the second quarter to set up a field goal.

Still it wasn’t enough. The Chiefs lost their fourth straight game and sixth in their past seven, 38-31 to the New York Jets.

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At 6-6 overall, their games don’t get any more critical than the next two, both at home against AFC West opponents. They face the Oakland Raiders next Sunday and the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15.

Smith said he wasn’t motivated Sunday by any talk that he might be replaced by Mahomes if the Chiefs didn’t snap out of their offensive slump.

“Zero extra [pressure],” Smith said. “If you’ve got to have some extra mo or something, absolutely not. I haven’t thought about it. I’m trying to go out and play good ball. I realize the last couple of weeks on offense hasn’t been good enough for us. You’re [eager] to get back on track. You’re [eager] to get it going again and get back to playing the way we know we can play.

“We’ve been in some close ones, a bunch here lately, and come out on the wrong side. Just keep fighting and try to find a way. Obviously we know we have a couple of big division games coming up. We’ve got to assess this and then we’ve got to get ready.”

The Chiefs’ 31 points were more than they’ve had in a game since Week 5. But the Chiefs’ defense collapsed, allowing almost 500 yards to the Jets. New York converted 13 of 20 third-down plays, and the Chiefs committed eight penalties.
Four of Kansas City’s penalties were on the Jets’ go-ahead touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. They at one point made the Jets kick a field goal but nose tackle Bennie Logan was penalized for unnecessary roughness, giving the Jets a fresh set of downs.

The Chiefs had a similar penalty-filled final drive in their October loss to the Oakland Raiders.

“There is a little frustration there,” coach Andy Reid said. “I’m not saying [the penalties] shouldn’t have been called … but they were called and after awhile you’re down there, you’re competing and we’ve had a couple of games where we’ve had that.”

They also changed their offensive playcaller from Reid to coordinator Matt Nagy. That didn’t appear to make much of a difference. The Chiefs did get the two early touchdown passes, both to Travis Kelce. But both came in Kansas City’s first 15 snaps. The Chiefs generally script those plays well before kickoff; they are not selected in the moment