You never want to hear your coach use words like "embarrassing" or saying your team "quit" but that's exactly what Nuggets Head Coach Michael Malone about his team following their 123-98 Game 2 loss in Phoenix. A day after Nikola Jokic was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player, he and his teammates gave what their coach would insinuate was their worst effort of the playoffs, if not the entire season. Joker was the leading scorer in the game with 24 points and the leading rebounder with 13. But it wasn't nearly enough. Chris Paul set the tone for the Suns and dished out 15 assists and had zero turnovers. Denver shot 40 percent from the floor, and made just 14 of 43, 3-pointers. Conversely, Phoenix shot 48 percent from the floor, and made 18 3's. "They are playing better than us," Jokic said postgame. "They are aggressive, they are making shots, they are finding open looks…we need to change everything, we need to be aggressive, we need to punch first."
Will Barton made his return from a hamstring injury that sidelined him since mid-April, but on a minutes restriction (15:49) he was only able to do so much scoring 10 points. Both Malone and Jokic praised his effort postgame, "especially with hamstrings, even when it’s healed, you kind of need a little more time to get back your confidence…I think he showed some other guys, if you’re hurt or whatever, you can fight through, you can be tough, and try to help the team," Jokic said.
Malone was bewildered following the loss and said so, "we got our asses kicked." He said he's not sure what combination of 5 players he'll look for, but he may shake things up a bit to try to get a spark on Friday in Game 3 as the series shifts to Denver. "There's a reason their crowd is yelling Suns in 4," Malone lamented, "I thought we quit tonight! I saw guys walking around tonight and missing shots, and decided, ‘hey I’m just gonna mope on the court…if we play like this, they’re gonna boo us off the court and rightfully so..."