Michael Malone is hoping his team will remember the fright of Halloween night and fix it.
The Denver Nuggets coach lit into his team in comments following a 122-107 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on the road. Malone said he was embarrassed, lit into his starters and insisted his team was all about talk.
Malone calls out starters’ effort
Malone lit into the defensive effort, calling it an “embarrassing effort” that gave up 37 fast-break points. The total is tied for the most a Nuggets team has given up, per ESPN Stats and Research. The Pelicans had 20 of them in the first 15 minutes.
Denver (3-2) trailed by as many as 22 points and the starters were outscored, 86-48. Malone credited the bench players in his comments. Via ESPN:
"I thought our starting group struggled. I thought they were low energy," Malone said. "We were lucky to be down by four at halftime, and they come out and punch us in the mouth to start that third quarter.
"I thought tonight was a disappointing, embarrassing effort. I thought guys off the bench played hard, gave effort. We gotta find ways to get our starters to play the same way, because they're not playing like that right now. They're just not."
Backup center Mason Plumlee agreed. Via the Denver Post:
“I don’t consider effort a learning curve,” he said succinctly.
One bright spot: the Nuggets ended their season-starting streak of allowing at least 123 points in each of the first four games.
Malone: ‘We’re a great talk team’
The Nuggets are a favorite this year after last season’s postseason appearance. But Malone questioned Thursday night if the players could show they were deserving of all the talk they’ve given.
“We’re a great talk team,” Malone said. “We can talk before the season starts about all the things we want to accomplish, and we want to be a championship contending team. It’s all [bogus]. Don’t tell me about it, show me. And right now we’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t showing me much. And just care. I know you’re going to make a mistake. Just show me that you care.”
It’s still in the early weeks of the season, but a coach calling out his players in a postgame press conference for lack of effort and caring is concerning. Either they live up to the call, or suffer through a long, dramatic season.
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