Trailing by 16 deep into the third quarter, and in danger of falling behind two games to none and heading on the road, the Nuggets finally found the energy and offensive output that drove them to the West’s second seed.
Had it not been for what happened the day before, the Nuggets win would have been far and away the most impressive game of the 2019 NBA Playoffs thus far. But alas. On Monday the Los Angeles Clippers erased a 31-point second half lead, on the road, to stun the Golden State Warriors.
And the two games are related. Nuggets coach Mike Malone - a former assistant coach on the Warriors - admitted after his team’s season-saving victory that he used the Clippers performance as motivation.
"It's only going to happen though if we believe, we commit and we fight."— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 17, 2019
Mike Malone on his @nuggets team tying the series and believing in Jamal Murray. #MileHighBasketball | #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/4tHnXsRXRL
“There was a timeout midway through the third quarter I thought was a pivotal point in the game,” Malone said. “We’re down by 16 points, and I could see it on some guys’ faces — which way is this game going to go. And I reminded them we had 18 minutes to go. I reminded them what the Clippers did last night, and how much basketball was left. It’s only going to happen though if we believe, we commit, and we fight, and we attack. And the guys took it to heart, and we closed the game on I think a 57-32 run.”
With the win, the Nuggets tied the series at one game apiece, and keep themselves in position to potentially meet the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.