Michael Malone rips his team after disappointing Game 2 loss

Jun 5, 2023, 6:14 AM

Nuggets coach Michael Malone didn’t rip his team after their 111-108 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. He destroyed them.

“We had guys out there who were feeling sorry for themselves or not making shots,” hammered Malone. “They thought they could just turn it on or off. This isn’t the preseason, the regular season; this is the NBA Finals. That is perplexing, disappointing.”

Malone wouldn’t let it go answering every single question in the postgame with the ultimate “I told you so” venom.

Here are some gems:

“I asked our players why they loss. And they knew it. Miami came here and outworked us.”

“Our least disciplined game.”

“We got lucky in Game 1.”

“In the fourth quarter, we gave up 69 percent from the field. That’s not gonna cut it, man; that’s not gonna cut it.”

“The wheels fell off starting in that fourth quarter. They were getting whatever they wanted.”

“That’s two games where our fourth-quarter defense was non-existent.”

“I told our guys if we would’ve won this game tonight, we would’ve stolen one.”

“Tonight, they buried us.”

Jeff Green agreed with his head coach about the lack of effort.

“It’s the (bleeping) NBA finals, man. Our energy has to be better,” said an exasperated Green.

It’s staggering and beyond disappointing that with so much on the line, the consensus was that the Nuggets didn’t try hard enough.

“We just piled it on mistake after mistake,” said Jamal Murray. “Even when we were up, it felt like we were trying to climb back into the game.”

Malone begged his team to not listen to the massive hype. It appeared that every local paper, radio station and podcast was being consumed by the Nuggets. They weren’t just listening to the hype; they were devouring it like oxygen.

For the second NBA Finals game in a row, the Nuggets were smoked in the fourth. They allowed 36 points in the final period on Sunday night.

“The last few days, our focus wasn’t where it needed to be, but that won’t happened for Game 3,” said Bruce Brown.

It is confounding that Brown’s statement would ever be made. How in the world could this happen?

It would appear that Michael Porter Jr. is back in the Malone doghouse. He finished with just five points, including one three-pointer. Most disappointing was the effort on defense, as he finished with a team high minus-15. Shockingly, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope wasn’t much better with six measly points and a minus-14.

What impacted the game more than anything is how willing the Nuggets were to allow the Heat to shoot. They didn’t seem to care.

The Heat vowed to let it fly and were true to their word. Max Strus, after missing all nine of his three-point attempts in Game 1, wasn’t shy to fire away, making his first four threes. As a team, the Heat improved from 33.3 percent to 48.6 percent from three.

Credit should be given to the Heat. As the cliche goes, they get paid too. But, there was no hiding from the fact that real culprit was a lack of effort. For that, there is no excuse.

Despite a pitiful performance, the Nuggets closed the game strong, making five straight buckets. Down by three with the clock ticking away and with two timeouts left, Malone chose to let it ride. Murray had a solid look. The shot went up and perhaps karma tipped it out.

The result was the first home loss of the playoffs.

Many times in this playoff run, the Nuggets have learned a lesson while still picking up the W. They now take that L with them to Miami.

This one stings.

A 15-point lead in the first half and an eight-point lead going into the fourth quarter were both discarded like rotten fish. Perhaps, the Nuggets didn’t deserve Jamal Murray’s final shot to drop.

Just ask Michael Malone.



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