(News4usonline) – Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone is not a happy man. After his Nuggets surrendered 36 points in the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals which ended up resulting in a 111-108 Miami win on Denver’s home floor, Malone was very specific about why his team lost: effort.
“Let’s talk about effort,” Malone said after Game 2. “This is [the] NBA Finals, we are talking about effort; that’s a huge concern of mine. You guys probably thought I was just making up some storyline after Game 1 when I said we didn’t play well. We didn’t play well.
"I know the level of confidence that we have in him, that he has in himself."— NBA (@NBA) June 5, 2023
Jimmy Butler adds that Gabe Vincent is the starting point guard for a reason ?#NBAFinals presented by @YouTubeTV pic.twitter.com/ggI8bKD11Q
“Tonight, the starting lineup to start the game, it was 10-2 Miami,” Malone added. “Start of the third quarter, they scored 11 points in two minutes and 10 seconds. We had guys out there that were just whether feeling sorry for themselves for not making shots or thinking they can just turn it on or off, this is not the preseason, this is not the regular season. This is the NBA Finals. That to me is really, really perplexing, disappointing.”
It’s easy to see why Malone was upset. The Nuggets wasted a 41-point and 11-rebound effort from their star center Nikola Jokic in the defeat. After that, the scoring from Denver’s side sort of tailed off, especially from key role players that have been instrumental in the Nuggets becoming the Western Conference champs, a team that whipped through the likes of the Phoenix Suns and beat the Los Angeles Lakers in four games.
Coming into Game 2, the Nuggets had won seven games in a row. That streak was stopped with the Heat’s scoring eruption in the final period. Outside of Jamal Murray’s 18 points, Denver got virtually little from the rest of the team. The five points in 26 minutes by Michael Porter Jr. was just a waste of everybody’s time. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope didn’t do anything during his 36 minutes of playing time, scoring just six points.
Jeff Green, who finished the game with nine points, had a point-blank response to the Nuggets’ defeat.
“It’s the [expletive] Finals, man,” Green said. “Our energy has to be better. We can’t come out like we did, and we have to be better.”
GAME 2 FINAL SCORE— NBA (@NBA) June 5, 2023
The Heat even the series at 1-1! pic.twitter.com/jwL93sK2Yd
On the other side of the coin, Miami was excited to knot the series at 1-1. After the first playing the first two games of the NBA Finals in Denver, the Heat will not entertain the Nuggets on their home floor. Guard Gabe Vincent, who scored a game-high 23 points for Miami, said the Heat didn’t do anything extraordinary except bring a different level of energy into Game 2.
“I think just in general, we just competed harder today,” Vincent said.”I don’t know if it was any direct scheme or direct thing we did outside of just being a little more intentional and a little more focused and playing just a bit harder. Playing a little — just competing a little bit more.”
The word compete seemed to be a running thing for the Heat. Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra shared his thoughts during a post-game press conference on the way his team competed, especially in that pivotal fourth quarter when the Heat outscored Denver, 36-25.
“During the fourth quarter, our guys love to compete. They love to put themselves out there in those moments of truth. Fortunately we were able to make a lot of big defensive plays down the stretch, and then we got a lot of contributions, which you’re going to need against a team like this.”
Lead/Headline Photo. Gabe Vincent #2 of the Miami Heat dribbles against Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets during the first quarter in Game Two of the 2023 NBA Finals at Ball Arena on June 04, 2023 in Denver, Colorado (Please credit NBAE/Getty Images).
Dennis has covered and written about politics, crime, social justice, sports, and entertainment. Dennis currently covers the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, and Olympic sports. Dennis is the editor of News4usonline.com and serves as the publisher of the Compton Bulletin newspaper. He earned a journalism degree from Howard University.