26 Jan 2019, 11:30 IST
DENVER (AP) — When the NBA handed down Nikola Jokic’s one-game suspension Friday afternoon, Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone known as for 2 issues: an evidence from the league and a second shootaround from his gamers.
He appreciated the primary and was happy with the second after the Nuggets rallied round their star middle’s absence in routing the Phoenix Suns 132-95 on Friday night time.
“The league was nice, and I imply this,” Malone mentioned, including the NBA apologized for not informing him of Jokic’s suspension earlier than the Nuggets’ midday shootaround.
“They have been simply busting my chops in there as a result of we introduced them again within the afternoon simply to stroll by means of the performs as soon as we knew who was in, who was out,” Malone mentioned after rising from his victorious locker room. “However, no matter it takes for a win.”
Mason Plumlee laughed concerning the additional pre-game follow.
“I do not suppose anybody was completely happy” about it, he mentioned. “Did we want it? I do not know. He can say it was the best transfer now as a result of we performed effectively.”
Paul Millsap had 20 factors to guide eight Nuggets in double figures, and Denver held the Suns to 40 second-half factors in handing Phoenix is seventh straight loss.
Jokic, the Nuggets’ chief in factors, rebounds and assists, was banished for an evening by the NBA for leaving the bench throughout an altercation in Utah two nights earlier.
Though the suspension pressured him to juggle his lineup and rotations, Malone mentioned it did not “change our focus in any respect as a result of that ought to not change regardless of who’s enjoying in uniform. Clearly, if you end up down your finest participant and an All-Star, different guys need to step up.”
That, they did.
Plumlee bought the beginning in Jokic’s absence and had 16 factors, six assists and 7 rebounds in 25 minutes.
“Folks neglect, Mason Plumlee was a starter on a playoff group” in Portland, Malone mentioned. “So, as a lot as we love Nikola, with Nikola not being right here tonight, Mase is greater than able to taking these minutes and enjoying like Nikola.”
All 5 starters reached double digits and so did reserves Malik Beasley (19 factors), Monte Morris (17) and Trey Lyles (12).
“That is what good groups do,” Malone mentioned. “When any individual’s not right here, any individual else steps up.”
Jokic’s absence certain did not flip right into a blessing for Phoenix.
“They did not want him the way in which they performed — or the way in which we performed,” Suns coach Igor Kokoskov mentioned.
Devin Booker led the Suns with 35 factors. They have been with out their very own huge man with DeAndre Ayton lacking the sport with a sprained left ankle.
“We all know we did not play effectively tonight,” Booker mentioned. “It was form of embarrassing.”
Nuggets rookie Jarred Vanderbilt, a 19-year-old chosen within the second spherical of the NBA draft out of Kentucky, made his professional debut within the waning minutes after recovering from ankle and foot accidents.
“I am completely happy he bought that first-game jitters out of the way in which,” mentioned Malone, who desires Vanderbilt to get his legs underneath him within the G-League.
In Three minutes, Vanderbilt had a degree, an help on a full-court move, a steal and three rebounds, then was doused by a few teammates with two cups of Gatorade.
“He is within the league now,” Plumlee mentioned.
Jamal Murray scored 13 factors however rolled his troublesome ankle once more. Malone mentioned with the large lead, there was no cause to place him again in.
“That was the advantage of tonight as effectively: our starters, no person performed loopy minutes,” Malone mentioned. “We have been in a position to play a number of guys with tomorrow being our third sport in 4 nights, that is all the time necessary.”
Suns: A number of of Ayton’s teammates have been out with him, together with his backup, Richaun Holmes (proper foot). Ahead T.J. Warren (sore proper ankle) and guard De’Anthony Melton (proper ankle) additionally missed the sport. … The Suns fell to 4-21 on the highway.
Nuggets: Denver outscored Phoenix 26-2 on second-chance factors. … Denver gained the season collection 3-1. … The Nuggets improved to 21-Four at dwelling. … The Nuggets closed out the primary half on a 23-Eight run for a 70-55 lead. … Denver improved to 15-1 when holding opponents beneath 100 factors.
Suns: Go to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night time.
Nuggets: Host the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night time after they get Jokic again.
Observe Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton
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