NBA rumors: Nuggets admit they were motivated by Lakers media coverage

Mike Malone, Denver Nuggets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Mike Malone, Denver Nuggets (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Denver Nuggets claimed the media’s Lakers bias motivated them ahead of Thursday’s Game 2 victory. 

The Denver Nuggets overcame three quarters of subpar Jamal Murray and another strong defensive performance from the Lakers with one quarter of significantly above-par Jamal Murray. After starting Thursday’s Game 2 ice-cold, Murray scored 23 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter to help Denver take a commanding 2-0 series lead.

Now, the series shifts back to Los Angeles with the Lakers on the ropes. Naturally, the national media coverage has been centered on LA’s missed opportunities more than Denver’s resiliency and strong play. That’s how it goes — the Lakers are the biggest brand name in basketball, and LA is the biggest market. Of course the national media coverage skews in that direction.

For the Nuggets, however, that appears to be a source of motivation.

The Nuggets are frustrated with the lack of respect from the national media

Well, the proof is in the pudding. The Nuggets now lead the series 2-0, and Mike Malone had much more to say on the matter postgame — including an iconic “you put that in your pipe and smoke it”  to cap Denver’s successful home stand.

Not many coaches are so willing to explicitly mention national narratives and media coverage. While some may lambast Mike Malone for being too online, it’s refreshing to hear a coach speak so honestly in support of his team. He’s right: Nikola Jokic is putting together a historic postseason run. Jamal Murray had an all-time fourth quarter. The Nuggets entered this series, the Western Conference Finals, as the No. 1 seed with a two-time MVP; why are we still hearing about reporters watching Jokic for the first time?

Denver is, as Kevin Durant so eloquently stated last series, the No. 1 seed for a reason. There isn’t a more compelling title contender in the West right now. This team is connected, with years of built-in chemistry and arguably the best player in the world. The Lakers are down 0-2 because of missed opportunities, sure. But that’s the thing about NBA basketball: the better teams tend to capitalize on their opportunities. The Nuggets made a roaring comeback last night because they capitalized on their opportunity, and now it’s up to the Lakers to put up or shut up. Can LA win four of the next five?

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