SAN ANTONIO – Denver head coach Michael Malone once again challenged the Nuggets, especially Jamal Murray, to play more physically and take things more personally against Derrick White and the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4.
"Derrick White did not feel us last night," Malone said at the Nuggets team hotel a day after White scored 36 points, the highest number of his career, with 24 of them in the paint. "He woke up this morning probably feeling very happy because he had the 36 easiest points he's had and that can not happen."
"I'm waiting for [Murray] He has the same reaction as Derrick White, "Malone added about Murray's mentality when entering Game 4 on Saturday." Derrick White received the great play of Jamal Murray in the fourth quarter of Game 2 and came out in Game 3 very motivated and in attack mode. And we have to get Jamal to play at a higher level. In 12 quarters, Jamal has impacted the game to a high level in one of those. And Derrick White at the moment has 23 points per game, 69 percent from the field. [for the series]. Jamal has to take that personally and I hope that happens tomorrow afternoon. "
White has played as the best player in this first round series, the best of seven, and that is why the Nuggets, second favorite, are placed in seventh place in San Antonio, 2-1. White dominated Murray and the Nuggets in Game 3, getting the stops and doing 12 of 14 shots in the paint on Thursday night.
Malone Malone told his team on Friday that he had to be much more physical against the Spurs while showing them exactly that in a film session. He implored the Nuggets to hit first Saturday.
"Like how many times are you going to see a guy just go to the basket for a tray," said Malone, exasperated. "I know maybe because my father [Brendan was an badistant] with Detroit and the Bad Boys and the game has changed a lot, but this is really a good line [and] I do not want anything to be interpreted since we are going to play dirty. We are not a dirty team. We do not have that mentality. That is not what we are and the rules do not allow it. Thank God.
"But you have to be willing to [deliver] a hard foul sometimes because when a guy feels so comfortable, it was 36 points,  It was in our painting, at some point this becomes ridiculous. He is in our guards because he did not feel us. It is in our big ones. It is about who is near the basket, send a message, put it on the foul line, make it win. I'm not saying they play dirty, but in the playoffs, it has to be physical basketball, and you have to make the teams win everything and it was too easy for them. "
Malone also let the NBA know what he thinks the officers are allowing San Antonio to escape, including what he believes was an illegal screen programmed by Jakob Poeltl near the middle of the court in Murray, the guard made an exception to believe that Poeltl took his leg.
"I do not think he was dirty," Malone said. "I do not think they're a dirty team. [Gregg Popovich]It is nothing of what he preaches. I thought it was an illegal screen. Either a trip or an illegal screen. You can not have your feet off the base of your shoulders and I thought that the width of the screen and your feet were too wide. So it should have been something … I thought it was obviously an illegal screen and it's one of those clips that we'll send [to the NBA] and wait a bit to see … it does not really matter because it's not like you send the clips, they can change it. We're just trying to point out some of the screens that we think are being set up illegally. "
"If you set up physical screens around the game as they do, the referees will allow you to play," Malone added. "… Jakob Poeltl installs really good moving screens, and he does the whole game and gets away with it."
Murray has fought on both ends at times during this series outside the fourth quarter of Game 2 when he scored 21 points in the Nuggets' victory. He scored six points in Game 3 and is shooting 35.6 percent from the 3-point range in the series. Point of guard Monte Morris sent a text message with Murray after Game 3 and says the young Nuggets shooter will recover in Game 4.
"His head is fine," Morris said. "… Only me [texted him last night and] I told him it's midnight, it's a new day. It's basketball The good thing about a series, you have a day off and you start over. I said trust yourself. You are our anchor. You've got us here all season playing your basketball style, being aggressive, having fun. That's the Jamal Murray that I'm used to seeing.
"He said he will be in full screen in Game 4."