Nuggets lose fourth straight as head coach calls out play: ‘We’re just in chill mode’
The Denver Nuggets are slumping and head coach Michael Malone has seen enough.
Denver lost its fourth game in a row Tuesday night, falling to the Toronto Raptors, 125-110.
It’s the longest losing streak of the season for the Nuggets, coming at an inopportune time with the NBA Playoffs right around the corner.
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And while Denver still holds a four-game lead for first place in the Western Conference, Malone used the losing streak to call out his team.
“Right now we’re just in chill mode, and you can’t be in chill mode with 13 games to go in the season,” Malone said. “We’ve got to try to find a way to get our swagger back.”
“Maybe we’ve gotten a little soft with success,” Malone said. “We’ve been on cruise control for so long, No. 1 in the West since like Dec. 15. I just told our players we’ve gotten away from who we are.”
Denver has allowed at least 120 points in three of the four losses, with only one loss coming to a team with a record above .500 on the season.
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Toronto led the entire way Tuesday night, scoring 49 points in the first quarter and holding a lead of 24 in the third.
Denver cut the lead to just six entering the fourth quarter, but the Nuggets were unable to complete the comeback.
“When you expend so much energy getting back in the game you have nothing left to finish,” Malone said.
Denver has held the one-seed in the West for most of the season as the rest of the conference has struggled.
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Nikola Jokic has been incredible, attempting to become the first center to average a triple-double for the season as he tries for his third straight MVP award.
But the Nuggets may be facing the most pressure of any team in the conference heading into the postseason.
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Denver has been one of the top regular-season teams since 2018 but has only advanced to the Western Conference Finals once, losing to the LA Lakers in the Orlando bubble in 2020.
But if the Nuggets fall flat once again in the playoffs, the murmurs will only grow louder that this is simply a regular-season team with a star player that can’t get it done when it matters, regardless of the stats he puts up.
The Associated Press contributed to this report