The Nuggets responded in a big way to their head coach calling them out
At least on this night, there didn’t seem to be any Denver Nuggets players worrying about where they were going out after the game.
After an embarrassing and demoralizing loss two nights earlier, in Los Angeles against the Clippers, when the Nuggets let a 25-point lead get away, their coach was not too happy. Michael Malone publicly ripped into the team, questioning their commitment to trying to win basketball games.
“I think today’s NBA player, they are worrying about where they are going out tonight,” the Nuggets head coach said.
Malone suggested his players were more concerned with their social lives than their high paying jobs. Ouch!
But an interesting thing happened two nights later. Just 48 hours later, at home against the Portland Trailblazers, the Nuggets could not have looked any different. All the things they did wrong in Los Angeles, they did right Thursday night at Ball Arena, in cruising to 140-108 win. And making a statement about commitment in the process.
Nikola Jokic did not have his superstar offensive output – 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. But he didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter. That’s how good the Nuggets were in this one. They didn’t even need the league MVP.
Will Barton was outstanding, finishing with a team-high 21 points. The bench was as good as it has been all season, producing a staggering 66 points. Of course, when Malone can sit Jokic and other starters for whole quarters, the bench is going to get big minutes.
The Nuggets hit 21 three-pointers on Thursday, after struggling so badly from beyond the arc on Tuesday. Bones Hyland had five of them by himself. And it wasn’t all bombs away. The Nuggets had 58 points in the paint.
The impressive win was summed up beautifully by Jokic.
“That was spectacular,” the MVP said.
Adding to the spectacular was the fact the team earlier that day had learned that the Bol Bol trade had been voided by Detroit after Denver’s forward had failed his physical.
My how things can turn around so quickly in the NBA. Especially with the Denver Nuggets. After one of its very worst games of the season, the team bounced back with one of it’s best.
A statement was thereby made. And no questioning of commitment by the coach this time.