Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone did his best impression of Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla at the end of Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat on Sunday night.
With the Nuggets getting the requisite defensive stop down three points and securing a rebound with 11.1 seconds left, Malone did what Mazzulla has done countless times this season, and been criticized for as well. Malone kept both of his timeouts in his pocket and let his team play things out.
The strategy netted the same results for Malone as it did for Mazzulla. The Nuggets didn’t get the bucket they needed with Jamal Murray missing a contested 26-foot, step-back 3-pointer as the Heat walked away from Ball Arena with a 111-108 victory to even up the best-of-seven series at 1-1.
Malone faced plenty of heat on social media from Nuggets fans but, like Mazzulla, he did not second-guess his decision even though a timeout would have afforded him an opportunity to set up an offensive play in the critical moment.
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“I think it’s dependent upon the situation,” Malone told reporters, per The Denver Post’s Bennett Durando. “Their half-court defense was giving us a lot of trouble in that fourth quarter. You can take a timeout, let them get set — you let them review whatever play they think we’re going to run. And there’s a great chance we don’t get a quality shot like Jamal got, which was on line and from my perspective looked like it had a great chance of going in. And we’ve seen Jamal make shots like that before.”
With Murray’s shot not going down, it cemented the first loss for the Nuggets on their home floor during this postseason.
And somewhere, Mazzulla, who had his coaching staff bolstered Sunday, had to be smiling, thankful those in NBA circles and those just watching from their couches were talking about another coach not calling a timeout during an end-of-game situation.
Featured image via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images