“I’m embarrassed,” Malone said during the postgame presser, according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “That was an embarrassing effort defensively. Gave up 37 fast-break points. You can give all the transition defense rules that you want. To me, transition defense boils down to one thing — effort. Get back. You can tell them. You can lead a horse to water, whatever analogy you want to use. We did not get back.”
Malone tried changing lineups, going to his bench, and trying every flip flopping of the players on the court to infuse some life into his team. But, nothing seemed to turn the tide for Denver.
“I thought our starting group struggled. I thought they were low energy,” Malone said. “We were lucky to be down by four at halftime, and they come out and punch us in the mouth to start that third quarter.
“I thought tonight was a disappointing, embarrassing effort. I thought guys off the bench played hard, gave effort. We gotta find ways to get our starters to play the same way, because they’re not playing like that right now. They’re just not.”
The Pelicans had 20 fast-break points — more than they had in any of the first four games — in the first 15 minutes and finished with 37. It is tied for the most fast-break points a Nuggets team has allowed under Malone, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“We’re a great talk team. We can talk before the season starts about all the things we want to accomplish, and we want to be a contending team,” Malone said. “It’s all bulls—. Don’t tell me about it, show me. And right now we’ve got a lot of guys that aren’t showing me much.”
One player that Malone took time to praise was Mason Plumlee, who he wants the rest of the team to play like.
“Every night, he’s on the bench supporting his teammates,” Malone said. “When he goes into the game, he gives 1,000 percent. That’s great to see.
“I thought the guys off the bench were really committed. I got to find a way to get those five starters playing the same way for every minute that they’re on the court, because it’s not happening right now and I gotta figure that out, and that’s on me.”