As the Suns were administering Sunday night’s desert drubbing, Nuggets coach Michael Malone gave himself an internal challenge.
Even though the Nuggets were in the throes of a four-game losing streak and down enough bodies to field an entirely new starting lineup, Malone made a concerted effort to stay positive.
And he was, even after Phoenix dropped his team by 29 points.
“It’s also my job as a leader of this team to guide us through that,” Malone said. “I challenged myself tonight, throughout the game, even when it was getting ugly, to stay positive. And to be somebody that was bringing guys together, and not allowing them to split, and fall apart and give in. And we’re going to do that in Portland. … If we stay together and we keep on battling and competing, the tide will turn.”
Momentum flipped in the third quarter when the Suns outscored Denver 27-18. Players, like Aaron Gordon, were playing out of position, and typical reserves, like Jeff Green, were thrust into more prominent roles. Malone understood everything the Nuggets were battling internally aside from the formidable challenge of the Suns, last year’s Western Conference champions. He remained upbeat and encouraging throughout the loss.
“I just told our guys, we’ve lost four in a row,” he said. “Losing (stinks), it should hurt, you should be angry, you should be frustrated, you should be embarrassed, whatever it is,” he said. “We can’t wait for Jamal (Murray), Michael (Porter Jr.) and Nikola (Jokic) to come back. We have to fix it. We can only do that by staying together and having a positive mindset.”
Jokic was questionable entering Tuesday’s game against Portland with a wrist sprain. The reigning MVP has already missed two games in a row. Murray remains on the comeback trail after tearing his ACL last April, and Porter’s status remains in limbo, his season in jeopardy due to a nerve issue in his back.
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On top of that, rookie sparkplug Bones Hyland is out with a right ankle sprain while second-year forward Zeke Nnaji hasn’t played the last four games due to a right ankle sprain of his own.
Denver’s 3-point shooting has been among the NBA’s worst so far this season, and their bench unit has been in total …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – Sports