Michael Malone speaks out on free throw disparity in Nuggets’ Game 1 loss vs. Lakers
Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was not happy with the glaring free throw disparity between his team and the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their best-of-seven Western Conference Finals affair on Friday. Shortly after the Nuggets went down 1-0 in the series following a 126-114 defeat, Malone pointed out that the Lakers received a lot of favorable calls in that pivotal second period.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone on FT disparity in Lakers’ Game 1 blowout win: “They went to the foul line 24 times in one quarter. 24 times in a quarter, which is an extremely high number. On pace for almost 100. And we were called for 16 personal fouls in that (second) quarter.” pic.twitter.com/25IemkTgfC
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 19, 2020
Mike Malone does have some valid points here considering the Nuggets were actually leading by two, 38-36, after the first 12 minutes. However, the Purple and Gold broke the game wide open after outscoring Denver, 34-21, in that second period. While they didn’t particularly shoot the ball well in the 2nd either, the Lakers built that sizable advantage through their numerous trips to the foul line. The Nuggets also didn’t do themselves any favors by coming out flat after halftime.
The wide free throw disparity in the first half, meanwhile, just speaks to the Lakers’ aggressiveness and the Nuggets lack thereof in Game 1. Denver actually got to the line a bit more in the second half, going 23-for-28 overall for 82.1 percent. The Lakers, meanwhile, drained 27 of their 37 charity stripe attempts (73 percent).
But in the end, it’s the Lakers’ overall performance that won them the game. Anthony Davis was virtually unstoppable with 37 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists, while LeBron James had a quiet 15 points and 12 assists. Three other Lakers also scored in double figures, as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dwight Howard, and Kyle Kuzma all had great shooting nights.
The Nuggets are coming off back-to-back series that stretched to seven games, so it’s understandable if they looked a bit sluggish tonight. But they must figure out a way to limit the Lakers’ free-throw trips in Game 2 for a shot to even up the series.