The Denver Nuggets will not take away any moral victories from their slim loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, said head coach Michael Malone.
The Nuggets clawed their way back from a 16-point deficit and took a 103-102 lead with 20 seconds left when Nikola Jokic lofted a hook shot over Anthony Davis.
But Davis got him back by drilling a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Lakers a 105-103 win and putting them up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
Afterwards, Malone told reporters that he saw "no silver linings" in the defeat.
"I mean, this is the Western Conference finals, so no moral victories, no silver linings," he said. "(We) gave ourselves a chance to win tonight. Obviously, Anthony Davis hits a big three to win the game at the buzzer. We'll watch the film, see what happened on that last play."
The Nuggets gave a much better account of themselves in this game as opposed to the series opener, which they lost 126-114.
In Game 1, they fell behind by double-digits at the break and never recovered, as the Lakers shot 53% from the field with Davis putting up 37 points. In Game 2, the Nuggets steadily cut away at a 16-point deficit, and Jokic took over in the clutch after they fell behind by eight points, 100-92, with three minutes to go.
"I thought our defense in that second half was tremendous," said Malone. "That's where it starts with us. Our defense will keep us in games. We're 8-8 in the post-season. Eight wins, our defense has been great."
"We gave ourselves a chance tonight. Unfortunately Anthony Davis hit an incredible shot to kind of take that win away from us," he lamented.
Being down in a series is not new for the Nuggets, who overcame 3-1 deficits against the Utah Jazz in the first round, and against the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals to make it this far in the postseason.
Malone is confident that his team will have the right mindset heading into Game 3, scheduled for Wednesday morning, Manila time. He guaranteed that the disappointment and frustration that the Nuggets feel about their loss in Game 2 will serve as their fuel come the next game.
"Some guys like to win, some guys hate to lose. I think we're a group of guys that hate to lose. Whether it be by 20 something points in Game 1 or at the buzzer tonight, counts as the same," he said.
"The only thing you can talk about tonight is we were in the game tonight. They had to rely on a great shot by a great player to beat us at the buzzer," he added. "As long as we're putting ourselves in position to win games, that's all you can ask for."