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Following a loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone went so far as to call his team’s effort “embarrassing.”
The Pelicans picked up their first win, 122-107, of the season over the Nuggets, who are coming off an upstart 2018-19 campaign and entered this season with expectations of contending in a deep Western Conference behind rising stars such as Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic.
“We’re a great talk team. We can talk before the season starts about all the things we want to accomplish, and we want to be a contending team,” Malone told reporters after the game, per ESPN. “It’s all (expletive). Don’t tell me about it, show me. And right now we’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t showing me much.”
According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Pelicans scored 20 fast-break points in the first 15 minutes and finished with 37, which is tied for the most fast-break points Denver has yielded under Malone. The fifth-year coach said “that was an embarrassing effort defensively.”
In the fourth quarter, Malone yanked four starters when the Pelicans’ Jahlil Okafor converted a wide open layup off a steal and emptied the rest of his bench two minutes later.
“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.”
Denver (3-2) came within a game of the conference finals last season. The Nuggets’ first chance to remedy the Pelicans loss is Saturday against the Orlando Magic.