Even after seeing his team fall into a 3-0 hole in a 116-102 game-3 loss to the Phoenix suns in the semifinals of the Western Conference on Friday evening, Denver nuggets Coach Michael Malone remains confident that his team’s season will not end on Sunday with a prank.
“I know myself, I can’t speak for anyone. The last thing I want to see is the Phoenix Suns pushing a broom over our seat after Game 4,” said Malone. “We had a great season, great. I said that this year you can’t judge a season by the bottom line. We reached the Western Conference final last year, certain things can happen, but we can have a better season . ” but not so far this year.
“But the only thing I don’t want is for us to just quietly go out on that good night. I hope we show real fight and determination and force this series to return to Phoenix for Game 5.”
Malone caught attention after Denver’s Game 2 defeat when he said he felt his team had “stopped” as he was led out by the Suns in the second half for the second game in a row.
He seemed happier with his team’s performance after Game 3 and found solace in the fact that his young group dug their way out of a 3-1 hole twice during last season’s bubble playoffs.
“As for the 3-0 deficit, yes, history is not on our side,” said Malone. “But, you know what? We have rewritten history over the past few years. When we lost 3-1 twice last year, it was never about winning three more games. It was about winning the next game, winning the first quarter, “winning the second quarter and that has to be our way of thinking.”
The Nuggets also need to find a stronger determination when it comes to guarding the All-Star. goes Chris Paulwho lit the nuggets of all series. That continued on Friday when Paul had 27 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds in 37 minutes.
Paul’s stabilizing presence was a big part of the reason the Suns are one game away from ending Denver’s season. According to ESPN Stats & Information Research, he got 30 points on 12-of-13 shooting, including 4-of-4 from the 3-point range, with eight assists and no combined sales for the three fourth quarters of the series.
“We just have to make it harder for him,” says Nuggets-Wache Monte Morris said. “He’s a point guard in the Hall of Fame, easily in the top 5 and still playing in the NBA. … He involves everyone. CP is a tough cover for anyone, but we just have to stick to our game plan and try to implement it the best way we can.
Morris added: “S —, it’s 3-0. We all have to stay out there. We have nothing to lose. But we’re definitely not trying to get carried away into the off-season on our home pitch.” . That feeling wouldn’t sit well. “
About the only feeling that went well with the nuggets around the center Nikola Jokicwho received his MVP trophy before Friday’s game and then went out and scored 32 points, took 20 rebounds and gave 10 assists. Jokic has joined Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only player to have 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists each in a playoff game, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.
“It was a special moment,” said Jokic. “I enjoyed the moment. I wish my wife and parents could be here. I had my teammates behind me because this is my trophy, but it’s because of all of them. So I have to thank them.”
If Jokic and the Nuggets lost their fourth game on Sunday, he would be only the fifth MVP in league history to be swept out of a playoff streak, joining Magic Johnson (1989 final). Moses Malone (1979 first round), Abdul-Jabbar (1977 conference finals) and Wes Unseld (1969 conference semifinals).
“We saw one [closeout game] already “, sun watchman Devin Booker said. “I know these guys are not going to give up. They have the MVP of the league there, they are well trained by Mike Malone and they have some players who play very hard. Nobody ever wants their season to be this far.” Over, so we know they’ll try and we’re prepared for it. “
Malone said he hopes his team can straighten themselves up before it’s too late.
“My only hope is that we didn’t let go of the rope because the story told us,” Malone said. “My only hope is that our guys will show up and fight on Sunday afternoon / evening whenever this game is going on. I think they deserve it, their teammates deserve it and our fans deserve to go out and leave it all that way.” the line and you can walk off the ground with your head held high. “
ESPN’s Royce Young contributed to this report.