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Nuggets out to avoid letdown following blowout of T-Wolves

Denver took Game 1 by 29 points in the series opener Sunday night.

DENVER — Michael Malone didn't allow the Denver Nuggets to get cocky over their blowout of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the opener of their series, holding a spirited practice Tuesday that was preceded by a critical film session.

“We can't, because we won Game 1, come in today and just go through the motions,” Denver's coach said. “We haven't done anything, all right? We've got to win Game 2. Understand that they just got beat by 29 points. They're going to be a markedly different team tomorrow night and we have to be ready for that.”

Malone wasn't discounting how well the Nuggets played Sunday night after earning the Western Conference's top seed and getting a week off to prepare.

“My job is to keep our guys humble," Malone said. "It was a great game, no doubt, but you celebrate for a few minutes and you get ready. And that’s what today was all about.”

It would seem hard to find many flaws in the Nuggets' 109-80 demolition of the Timberwolves, who were held to their fewest points since 2016.

Malone, however, insisted he found plenty of plays on both offense and defense that held warnings for his team heading into Game 2 Wednesday night.

“This wasn't a film session of ‘Look how great we are,'" Malone said. “This was a film session of, 'Look what we did wrong on all these clips where we can get better.”

Nikola Jokic said Malone's message was well received.

“We had a good game; we're not satisfied,” Jokic said. “We're not going to relax. We're just going to play better. We know that they're going to go out there and play aggressive, try to surprise us. But I think we are ready.”

Jokic said that while “holding that team to 80 points is amazing,” there were plenty of breakdowns that had to be corrected in practice Tuesday.

Malone said he expects "a completely different game tomorrow. You're going to see an ultra-aggressive Minnesota Timberwolves team, especially Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns."

The duo combined to make 11 of 31 shots and went 2-for-11 on 3-pointers.

Towns certainly didn't want to look back on the opener.

"It's a series. Just move on," he said. "Flush it and get ready” for the next game.

Malone said he told his team to expect to see more post-ups from Towns and more pick-and-rolls from Edwards in Game 2.

That, and even more physicality.

“When you lose by 29, we all know what's about to happen,” Malone said. “Some coaches will say, ‘We have to match it.’ Screw matching. Exceed it. Exceed it. And if we do that, we'll give ourselves a chance to win another home game and go on the road up 2-0.”


Malone listed several reasons he sent Jokic back into the game midway through the fourth quarter despite the Nuggets holding a 30-point lead and Jokic having already taped his sore right wrist.

“One thing for me is no lead is ever safe,” Malone said, adding that Minnesota's starters were still in and lastly, his staring lineup “didn't get a lot of minutes together” as Jokic had four fouls and Aaron Gordon played just 23 minutes after getting into early foul trouble.

“Just trying to get our guys some rhythm and playing the right way going into Game 2," Malone said.

Jokic quickly picked up his fifth foul, a flagrant, and shortly thereafter fouled out for the first time since 2019.


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