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“I Know I Didn’t Quit”: Nikola Jokic Fires Back At Denver Nuggets Coach Mike Malone Saying “I Felt We Quit Tonight” After Ugly Blowout Loss In Game 2

Ashish Priyadarshi

Nikola Jokic

Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets were embarrassed by the Phoenix Suns in game to where head coach Mike Malone straight up felt his team quit.

The final score of the game was 123-98, and apart from Jokic, none of the Nuggets players really stepped up. The Suns now have a commanding 2-0 lead as the series shifts to Denver.

The Nuggets shooting woes continued as they shot only 40% from the field and 32.6% from three. Meanwhile, they couldn’t contain the Suns either who shot a blistering 47.4% on threes, making 18 of them.

Mike Malone was upset by his team’s seeming lack of energy, and he was very vocal in saying that he felt the Nuggets had given up.

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Nikola Jokic Has Words For Mike Malone, Believes He Didn’t Quit In Game 2

There was only one bright spot on the court for the Nuggets all game long. That person was none other than the league MVP, Nikola Jokic. The Joker had 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 6 assists despite getting minimal support from his teammates.

So, when Mike Malone called out his team, Jokic didn’t take lightly to it. Malone said there were issues with effort and urgency. He felt staight up embarrassed by the kind of performance his team put forth:

“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. And that’s why we got our a** kicked. That’s an embarrassing performance all the way around, from top to bottom.”

Aside from Jokic’s performance, there was one other positive takeaway for the Nuggets in this game. Will Barton had missed seven weeks due to a hamstring injury. The Nuggets guard tallied 15 minutes and scored an efficient 10 points. His recovery and depth will be valuable for the Nuggets if they are to come back in this series.

Mike Malone was happy with Barton’s performance, but he was also disappointed that he played better after missing so much time than several of the regular starters.

“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.”

Jokic was frustrated with the way Mike Malone was bearing down on the Nuggets team. He knew he did everything he could to lead the Nuggets to victory, but ultimately the lack of support from his teammates on an off-shooting night doomed Denver in game 2.

The Nuggets will need more from Jokic, Barton and the rest of the team if they are to have a shot at this series. They’ll play in front of their home crowd in a must-win game 3, and while Jokic might not have quit, Mike Malone is right. This team needs to do better.

Also Read: “Scottie Pippen was more important that The Last Dance gives him credit for”: Michael Jordan’s greatest teammate ever tells his side of the story on ‘Unguarded’, his new autobiography

About the author

Ashish Priyadarshi

Ashish Priyadarshi


Ashish Priyadarshi is The SportsRush's content manager and editor. Ashish freelanced for 1 year in the NFL division before taking on an editorial role in the company. He then tacked on managing content while adding on a writing role in the NBA division. Ashish has been closely following the NFL and NBA since the 2012 season when the Patriots lost the Super Bowl and Derrick Rose was at the height of his powers. Since then, Ashish has focused on honing his knowledge for both leagues in, even writing crossover pieces. In his free time, Ashish is an avid basketball player, he loves to watch movies and TV shows, immersing himself in the cinematic world. Ashish studies computer science and data science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and would love to mesh his love for sports with his technical skills.

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