Nuggets’ Michael Malone blasts team’s competitive fire after 25-point collapse


Nuggets coach Michael Malone didn’t hold back Tuesday night, questioning his team’s competitive resolve in the wake of their dispiriting 25-point collapse against the Clippers.

Malone said a loss like that, which ended in an 87-85 Clippers victory, would gnaw at him far beyond the long flight home from Los Angeles.

“Losses like this are gonna keep me awake for weeks,” Malone said. “I think today’s NBA player, they’re worrying about where they’re going out tonight.”

Not only did he question how much the collapse would sting for his players, but he also said he saw players fleeing from the moment during their meltdown.

“… We had a lot of guys running away from the ball in big moments,” he said.

Both statements were equally damning, as the Nuggets’ offense fell apart in the second half and Los Angeles picked away at a vulnerable squad.

In the second half, Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon combined for 32 of Denver’s 44 points. No one else had more than five.

When Jokic had a chance to win the game after corralling a defensive rebound with 7.5 seconds left, Malone opted not to call a timeout. It was a conscientious choice because of how dreadful Denver’s collective play had been over the game’s final 19 minutes.

“Our execution was piss-poor, so if we’d called a timeout, we’d have been doing them a favor,” he said. “Probably wouldn’t have gotten the ball inbounds, the way things were going for us.”

Jokic liked the look, even though he knew his 3-point try was short as soon as he released it.

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But Malone reasoned that that shot — on a night the Nuggets shot 4 for 33 from 3-point range — was better because at least it came against a scrambled Clippers defense.

Malone was unapologetic in his criticism, born of the 19 turnovers that gave Los Angeles life. If they weren’t throwing the ball away outright, they were attempting low-percentage passes that the plucky Clippers were waiting to intercept. The Clippers scored 16 of their 22 points off turnovers in the second half, which coincided with their 3-pointers starting to drop.

The avalanche swelled after the Nuggets took a 59-34 lead with 7:04 left in the third quarter.

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Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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