The Phoenix Suns defeated the Denver Nuggets 123-98 on Wednesday night in Game 2 of their playoff showdown.
Following that 25-point shellacking, Denver’s frustration bubbled over into the locker room.
It began with Nuggets head coach Mike Malone referring to his squad as a bunch of quitters.
“I felt we quit tonight,” he said.
“I saw one team that wanted to be here and play with a purpose and urgency, and one team that did not want to be here and play with no urgency,” he continued. “And that’s why we got our ass kicked.
“That’s an embarrassing performance all the way around, from top to bottom.”
As far as Malone was concerned, the only person that showed any real heart was Will Barton, who was returning from a hamstring injury. Barton played over 15 minutes and recorded 10 points and three assists.
“It’s embarrassing that a guy that hasn’t been able to play for seven weeks was out there leaving it all on the line, and I don’t feel like anyone else did,”
Nuggets big man and newly-crowned MVP Nikola Jokic didn’t take his coach’s criticism laying down.
“I know I didn’t quit,” he said after the game.
Jokic finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in the losing effort.
According to Mike Singer of the Denver Post, the Nuggets had a serious team meeting after the game.
“Asked Will Barton if anyone spoke up in the postgame locker room,” he wrote.
“Some things were said … Some things that needed to be said,” Barton replied.
The Suns are a tough team. There’s a reason they left last year’s champs in absolute shambles after the first round of the playoffs.
But they’re also not as unstoppable as Denver is making them look right now. Letting Phoenix shoot 47.9 percent from the field and a mind-blowing 47.4 percent from three is unforgivable.
The Bucks owner’s daughter decided to bring 2021 in with a bang by stripping all her clothes off. https://t.co/UgzhEEna4o
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 7, 2021
Six Suns players finished in double figures on Wednesday night, including all five starters.
The series isn’t over yet, but the Nuggets need to show some signs of life.
If they don’t, expect for this ‘quitting’ talk to only get louder in the coming days.