Malone urges Nuggets response to 'hungry' White
Derrick White played like he had not eaten in two days, Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone said after seeing his side undone by the unheralded San Antonio Spurs point guard.
The Spurs took a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series against the second-seeded Nuggets with a 118-108 home victory on Thursday.
They were paced by White, who put up a career-high 36 points in just his third playoff start, and coach Gregg Popovich let that performance speak for itself rather than offering any great praise of their 2017 first-round pick.
"He's okay," Popovich joked. "He was obviously spectacular. I don't know what else to say."
His opposite number Malone had plenty of words for the display of White, who was born in Colorado and played his collegiate basketball in his home state.
Malone felt White's performance was in part a response to Jamal Murray's fourth-quarter showing in the second game, which saw him rack up 21 points in the final frame of a Nuggets victory.
"There's no doubt in my mind that Derrick White, the last couple of days, has been reminded about Jamal Murray's fourth-quarter performance," Malone said. "Derrick White came out like he hadn't eaten in two days.
"He came out hungry. He came out p****d off. And he sent a very loud and clear message.
"Now I'm anxious to see our guys. How do we respond to that? Where is your pride? Where is your toughness? Where is your grit? So Game 4 is going to be great insight to who we are as a team, especially our young players, especially Jamal Murray.
"Great fourth quarter, we win Game 2. Well, he's going to learn as a young kid. It can't be just one quarter, it has to be every night if you want to be a really good basketball player, especially in the playoffs.
"It's defence. Derrick White dominated the game tonight. Jamal, first and foremost, has to take a lot more pride in his ability to guard and contain and make Derrick White feel him. Derrick White did not feel us tonight."