As his team faced a double-digit deficit against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of the NBA playoffs Tuesday, Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone used Monday night's historic, 31-point comeback by the Los Angeles Clippers over the Golden State Warriors as motivation for his players.
"I could see on some guys' faces, which way is this game going to go?" Malone told reporters after the 114-105 win. "...I reminded them what the Clippers did [Monday] night and how much basketball is left. It's only going to happen though if we believe, we commit, we fight and we attack, and the guys took it to heart—and we closed the game out on a 57-32 run from that point on."
The Clippers outscored the two-time defending champs 72-37 over the final 19 minutes and 31 seconds to pull off the largest come-from-behind victory in NBA postseason history.
The Nuggets didn't face quite that deficit, but they did find themselves in serious danger of falling behind 0-2 to the seventh-seeded Spurs.
The Nuggets trailed 73-57 with 5:45 to play in the third quarter when Malone called timeout. While they would soon see their deficit swell to 19, that huddle would spark them, as they went on an 11-0 run in the closing minutes of the quarter.
Denver then outscored San Antonio 39-23 in the final period.
Just like that, two major comebacks in the span of two days.
Malone also believed in Jamal Murray, who was 0-of-8 with three points through three quarters. Rather than bench the third-year guard, he let him work his way out of a slump.
Murray went off for 21 in the final 12 minutes, nearly outscoring the Spurs by himself.
After the game, Malone made it clear that he had Murray's back:
With the series tied up, a pivotal Game 3 will take place Thursday in San Antonio at 9 p.m. ET.