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Michael Malone torches Nuggets’ ’embarrassing’ effort after loss vs. Pelicans

Michael Malone, Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets fell to the previously winless New Orleans Pelicans 122-107 on Thursday night, handily losing every quarter of play. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was not happy with his team’s defensive performance against a young and inexperienced team that was also shorthanded.

The Pelicans led by as many as 22 points and put on a fast-break galore on Thursday night, shooting a rousing 53.3% from the floor and doubling them up from the 3-point line and the foul line.

Malone was livid:

“I’m embarrassed,” Malone said at his postgame news conference, according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “That was an embarrassing effort defensively. Gave up 37 fast-break points. You can give all the transition defense rules that you want. To me, transition defense boils down to one thing — effort. Get back. You can tell them. You can lead a horse to water, whatever analogy you want to use. We did not get back.”

It was a rather odd night for Denver, who lacked the intensity and grit they have been known for under Malone.

The Pelicans led by 19 when Malone called a timeout, replacing four of his starters in quick fashion. The gambit didn’t work, as Jahlil Okafor got his hands on a loose ball and ran it end-to-end for a dunk.

Malone’s diatribe continued:

“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.”

Malone is known as a no-nonsense type of coach and one who will sear into his players to get their attention. This early-season loss might just be the wake-up call they need.