Michael Malone

Michael Malone used Clippers' Game 2 win over Warriors to inspire Nuggets

Michael Malone used Clippers' Game 2 win over Warriors to inspire Nuggets

When you're getting your clock cleaned, sometimes you need something to inspire you to keep trying.

On Tuesday night, while his Nuggets were losing big in Game 2 to the Spurs, head coach Michael Malone used the Warriors' Game 2 loss to the Clippers to motivate his team.

"There was a timeout midway through the third quarter, I thought it was a pivotal point in the game," Malone told the media in Denver after the game. "We're down by 16 points and I could see it on some of the guys faces, you know, which way is this game going to go? And I reminded them we have 18 minutes to go. I reminded them what the Clippers did last night and how much basketball was left. It's only going to happen if we believe, we commit and we fight and we attack. And the guys took it to heart and we closed the game out I think on a 57-32 run from that point on."

A night earlier, the Warriors blew a 31-point lead at home against the Clippers, the largest blown lead in NBA playoff history.

As Malone stated, his speech worked. The Nuggets rallied for a 114-105 win to tie the series 1-1.

The Warriors and Nuggets, the top two seeds in the Western Conference, aren't breezing through the first round of the playoffs as expected.

[RELATED: KD, Kerr at odds over star's shooting]

Based on what happened on Monday night, the Warriors may be the ones in need of an inspirational speech.

Is Malone available?

Steph Curry produced Michael Malone's favorite Oracle moment in 2013

Steph Curry produced Michael Malone's favorite Oracle moment in 2013

Before Michael Malone coached the Kings and the Nuggets, he was an assistant coach on Mark Jackson's Warriors staff.

Now, Malone probably has nightmares about things Steph Curry does to his Nuggets. But back in 2013, Malone got to witness a Human Torch moment from the Warriors' bench.

In Game 4 of the 2013 Western Conference first-round series, Curry blitzed the Nuggets for 22 points in the third quarter. One shot stood out the most to Malone.

"I'll always remember Steph Curry hitting a shot against Denver," Malone told reporters in Oakland before Tuesday's Warriors-Nuggets game at Oracle Arena. "And he turned around before the ball even went in and it swished and you could see the players on the Denver bench covering their ears, that's how loud it was. You don't get that type of atmosphere in a lot of NBA arenas."

The Warriors will leave Oracle after this season and move into Chase Center in San Francisco next season.

"I'm hoping the new arena is not nearly as loud," Malone said.

[RELATED: Steph honors Biedrins at Oracle]

Malone had some nice things to say about Warriors fans ahead of the Nuggets' last regular-season game in Oracle.

"What I've always respected about the fans in Oakland, even when they weren't winning, they are not fairweather fans," Malone said. "They were here every night even when they weren't winning, and they made this place a tough place to play. And that second season when we were in the playoffs, this place from the national anthem to the final buzzer was loud."

Jamal Murray comes alive in the second half, drops Kings back to .500

Jamal Murray comes alive in the second half, drops Kings back to .500

SACRAMENTO -- For the second time this season, the Kings have stumbled into a three-game losing streak. They’ve also dropped back to .500, and they are frustrated.

It didn’t look like Thursday's 117-113 loss to the Denver Nuggets would turn out that way in the first half. Sacramento jumped all over Denver early, leading by as many as 15 before halftime. The Kings were forceful and fast, and the Nuggets had no answer.

And then it all shifted.

Jamal Murray turned from Clark Kent in the first half to Superman in the second, trashing Sacramento for 34 of his 36 points after the intermission.

“Guys got him open with good screens,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “We ran some good plays for him to get open shots, but Jamal deserves the credit. He stepped up and made play after play and tough shot after tough shot.”

[RELATED: Former coach Malone pokes Kings in Sacramento return]

The Kings went from 13 up at the break, to even heading to the fourth. Denver started the fourth on a 16-6 run to take a 10-point lead with 5:56 remaining, but the Kings didn’t go away.

Buddy Hield caught fire from the outside, burying three 3-pointers in the span of 1:31 to bring the Kings within three. De’Aaron Fox took over the scoring reigns, rattling off seven points over a 55-second stretch to keep the Kings close.

In the end, Sacramento couldn’t stop Murray, who hit back-to-back threes in the final minute to seal the deal for Denver.

“You hate losing, whether it’s one game, two games, three games, so we’re going to go back and look at what we can do better and hopefully try to change it for next game,” wing Justin Jackson said.

It’s a mini-slump for the Kings, but they’ve been each of the last three games all the way down the stretch. That includes an overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, where they led by nine with three minutes remaining.

“We’ve got to finish games, man, just lock in and finish games,” Hield said. “It’s not the ‘young’ excuse, we’re right there. So we’ve just got to finish games and protect the lead and find a way. Every team in the league, they find a way how to win, we have to find a way to win.”

The path to redemption doesn’t get any easier. Sacramento plays host to the World Champions on Saturday. The Warriors are coming off a wild overtime loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday night, and will likely come in motivated.

The Kings have played the Warriors tough all season, losing two games to their closest geographic rivals by a combined six points.

Thursday marked the first time the Kings have fallen back to the .500 mark since Dec. 1. They’ve battled through an incredibly difficult stretch in the schedule that included 12 games against Western Conference opponents who are either in the playoff chase, or made the playoffs a season ago.