Nuggets: Coach Michael Malone emphasizes need to improve on defense despite Sunday’s win.
It’s always preferable to give the lesson via a win.
Such as this one: The Nuggets beat Indiana 129- 126 on Sunday. Defensively, however, the Nuggets left much to be desired as Indiana shot 58.5 percent from the field.
“I’m thrilled that we won,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “But we cannot win allowing Miami to come in here and shoot 50 percent, allowing Indiana to come in and shoot 59 percent. In the long run, that’s losing basketball.”
Halfway through the Nuggets’ season- long, eight- game homestand, they are playing winning basketball with three victories in their past four games.
But this week will tell how much they’ve learned. For instance, the Nuggets followed a big win over Golden State with a complacent loss to Miami. But they bounced back from that to beat East powerhouse Indiana.
“The players deserve all the credit for the fact that we’re going out there and doing that,” Malone said. “The fact that we’re 3- 1 on this homestand, I think is great. By no means are we satisfied. We’ve been inconsistent this year, whether it’s game to game or quarter to quarter. That’s been our biggest problem in my mind.
“We’ve been unable to play 48 minutes some nights. We play hard every night. I never say we’re not playing hard. Some nights, we don’t play as smart as we need to or have as much discipline.”
Asked whether the team views itself as one that can take down any in the NBA, rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay didn’t hesitate.
“I feel like that all the time,” he said. “I think we’re getting confidence in each other and the fact that we’re believing in each other and making plays for each other. That’s the main thing: We’re getting wins, and we’re trying to make the playoffs for sure.”
Said Malone: “I have to uplift. I have to bring guys together. Because it’s easy when you’re losing or having a bad first half, to step back. C’mon, we’ve got to stay together. The only way we’re going to win is to understand why we are losing and clean up those areas so we can get the win.”
The Nuggets’ homestand continues with Oklahoma City and finishes with games against Memphis, Detroit and Atlanta.
“We’ve just got to continue to work together,” guard Randy Foye said.
Indiana Pacers forward Solomon Hill shoots over Nuggets center Joffrey Lauvergne on Sunday. Indiana shot 58.5 percent from the field but still lost 129- 126.