Denver coach a conundrum


MICHAEL MALONE is hard to please.  No, the hardest to please.  Even when he is winning, Malone makes whining a priority.

Win or lose, the Nuggets coach loves sounding the alarm in the ongoing National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals between Denver and the Miami Heat.

A resurrected Einstein? Perfectionist?

Malone sounded the alarm after Game 1—even after Denver had mightily spirited away a 104-93 victory.

“You guys probably thought I was just making up some storyline after Game 1, when I said we didn’t play well,” Malone said.  “We didn’t play well.”

That was an emphatic 11-point win and here is Malone telling us his Nuggets didn’t play well?

And he ain’t done yet.

When Miami escaped with a 111-108 win in Monday’s Game 2 for a 1-1 tie in the best-of-seven series, Malone was furious as he sounded the alarm a second time.

“This is not the preseason,” Malone said.  “Let’s talk about effort.  I mean, this is the NBA Finals and we’re talking about effort.  That’s a huge concern of mine.”

Nikola Jokic made a monster 41 points and that wasn’t an effort huge enough as to give Denver a 2-0 lead?

Painful because the loss was Denver’s first at home since March 30 this year.

Jamal Murray missed a three at the buzzer that could have forced overtime.

The equalizer had appeared on target.  But it somehow curved toward right, hitting the inner rim before bouncing out.

Painful because it finalized Denver’s first loss in 10 games played at home this year.

“Pretty glad that he missed it,” said Jimmy Butler, who meekly contested the game’s final shot.

The miss preserved Butler’s 21 points and 9 assists and Bam Adebayo’s 21 points and 9 rebounds.  Add Gabe Vincent’s 23 points and that gave the trio 65 of Miami’s 111 points.

“This is the finals,” Adebayo said.  “We gutted one out.”

Adebayo scored Miami’s last two points from the stripe on Monday, giving the Heat a safe 111-106 lead before Jokic made it a final 111-108 count on an undisturbed drive.

“Our guys are competitors,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, whose Fililpino mother has roots in San Pablo, Laguna.  “They love these kind of moments.”

The win gave the Heat a monumental momentum going to Games 3 & 4 both set in Miami.

Will the Heat sear the Nuggets there and return to Denver with a 3-1 mark?

Giddy up, Malone.

THAT’S IT. Nice to hear Kai Sotto, the 7-foot-3 beanpole, say that his Top 2 dreams are “to play for Gilas in the Fiba World Cup and in the NBA.”  Good luck, kiddo!

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