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Michael Malone says some of his players came out in Game 3 like it was a regular-season game

Michael Malone, Nuggets

The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Denver Nuggets by a score of 118-108 in Game 3 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series on Thursday night, taking a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven set.

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was not happy with the Nuggets’ effort during the loss, saying that some of the players did not treat the affair as a playoff game:

“I thought a few of our guys actually came out in that game yesterday like it was a regular season game, like it was just, ‘Okay. Game 3 in San Antonio,'” said Malone, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “They came out with full understanding of what was at stake.”

While no on other than the players themselves know for sure what they were thinking, it’s hard to argue with Malone’s assessment.

Denver won just one quarter in the contest, and while it shot the ball incredibly well from the floor (51.9 percent) and made 15 three-pointers, it went just 9-of-17 from the free-throw line.

Meanwhile, the Spurs, who shot a lower percentage from the field (49.4 percent) and made less than half of the amount of triples the Nuggets converted, went 23-of-23 from the charity stripe, which ultimately ended up being the difference in the game.

San Antonio has been in control for most of this series, with the only time where Denver looked to be all that competitive was the final 18 minutes or so of Game 2, when the Nuggets erased a 19-point deficit in a pivotal victory.

The Spurs will play host to Malone’s group in Game 4 on Saturday evening.