Nikola Jokic and head coach Mike Malone were obviously unhappy with the Denver Nuggets’ effort against the Golden State Warriors on Friday. The fourth-seeded team in the West, after all, were expected to make quick work of the struggling Warriors at Chase Center.
The Dubs, however, came in prepared and was the better overall team for the entire 48 minutes in their 118-97 victory. Aside from absorbing the stinging defeat, Denver also lost key player Will Barton to what appears to be a serious knee injury.
After the match, coach Mike Malone said he does not want to use Barton’s injury as a scapegoat for their poor performance (via Mike Singer of the Denver Post).
“I think all you guys are fishing for we lost this game because of Will’s injury. Don’t make that excuse for us. Will Barton went down. He’s hurt and we feel for him…. But we all get paid on the 1st and 15th. Do your job. We didn’t do our job tonight.”
Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic agreed with Malone’s take, as he also felt Denver just went through the motions after Barton left the game.
Nikola Jokic: “We need to play with purpose.”
— Mike Singer (@msinger) April 24, 2021
The Joker tried his best to keep his team in the game putting up 19 points, six rebounds, and six assists in 33 minutes. Michael Porter Jr. also had a valiant effort of a team-high 26 points. However, it was clear that Barton’s injury greatly dampened the team’s spirits and affected their performance for the rest of the game.
After a slow start to the season, the Nuggets have come roaring back to the top 4 in the West thanks in large part to Jokic’s MVP-worthy play. However, they just lost Jamal Murray to a season-ending injury and Barton’s possible absence once again puts them in a tough spot.
But regardless of the personnel available, Jokic and Malone understand the Nuggets have no reason not to play with utmost conviction each game.