Doric SamJune 5, 2023

Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

After the Miami Heat stole Game 2 of the NBA Finals with a fourth-quarter comeback on the Denver Nuggets’ home floor at Ball Arena, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was not happy with his team’s energy down the stretch of the game.

“This is the NBA Finals and we’re talking about effort. That’s a huge concern of mine,” Malone told reporters to open his post-game press conference, later adding that he felt some players were “feeling sorry for themselves” after missing shots, which affected the rest of their game.

The Nuggets held an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter, but the Heat outscored them by 11 points in the final frame to steal a 111-108 victory on the road. Malone was disappointed with how Denver closed the game.

“They started the fourth quarter 13-2. To me, the wheels really came off when they started that fourth quarter. … That’s two fourth quarters now where our defense was nonexistent,” Malone said.

The Nuggets wasted a 41-point performance from star center Nikola Jokić. He added 11 rebounds but finished with just four assists, his lowest mark of the playoffs. No other player on the team reached the 20-point mark. Jamal Murray had 18 points and 10 assists, while Aaron Gordon added 12 points and seven rebounds.

The Heat had a much more balanced performance, as five players scored in double figures in the win. Gabe Vincent led the way with 23 points while Jimmy Butler had 21 points and nine assists, and Bam Adebayo had 21 points and nine rebounds. Max Strus added 14 points and Duncan Robinson scored 10 off the bench, all in the fourth quarter.

As the series shifts to Miami, the Nuggets have the tough task of trying to take back home-court advantage and regain the momentum of the series. The two teams will meet in Game 3 on Wednesday at Kaseya Center.

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