“I felt we quit tonight, which is something you never want to see,” Malone told reporters postgame. “I guess for Game 3, I’m just going to try find guys that will at least go out there and leave it all on the line. I may have a hard time coming up with five guys that fill that.”
Malone’s squad returns to Denver down 0-2 in the series after another lackluster performance. The Nuggets trailed for virtually the entire contest, holding only a brief 2-0 lead in the early moments.
Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic had a solid 24-point, 13-rebound, and 6-assist performance. However, no other Denver player scored more than 11 points.
Phoenix led by as many as 31 points and holds a +42 point differential through the first two contests of the series.
“I saw one team that wanted to be here and played with a purpose and urgency, and one team that did not want to be here and played with no urgency. And that’s why we got our ass kicked,” Malone said.
Malone did praise swingman Will Barton, who suited up for the first time since Apr. 23. The 30-year-old had 10 points and three assists in 16 minutes of action after missing nearly two months due to a hamstring strain.
Malone voiced frustration his team couldn’t match Barton’s effort and believes their season could be done soon if they don’t increase their intensity for Games 3 and 4.
“This was an embarrassing performance from myself all the way to the last player,” he said. “We’re walking out of here with our heads held down, rightfully so. There’s a reason that their crowd is yelling, ‘Suns in four.’ They’re calling for a sweep because if we play like this back in Denver, this is going to be a really quick series.”