DENVER — Bruce Brown snagged a defensive rebound after Jimmy Butler missed a long jump shot with 11.1 seconds left in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. With his team down three points, Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone did not call a timeout, instead opting to let a final play unfold.
Brown lobbed the recovered ball to his point guard, Jamal Murray, who dribbled down the court and around multiple defenders. He had a standoff with Butler at the top of the arc and twirled around himself before driving left and tossing up a three-point attempt that careened off the rim.
After the game, Malone explained his decision to not take a timeout and write up a play, even though he had two to use. He said he trusted his point guard, who had an eight-point second quarter and two key three-point buckets earlier in the final period when the Nuggets rallied from a 12-point deficit.
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"You take a timeout, you let them get set, you let them review whatever play they think that we’re going to run and there’s a great chance that we don’t get a quality shot like Jamal got," he said, "which was on line and from my perspective, looked like it had a great chance of going in. And we’ve seen Jamal make shots like that before."
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He added that the call was situational and that he felt he made the right decision in the context of the game. Before the Nuggets' comeback attempt, Miami outscored Denver 32-12 to garner its biggest lead of the matchup.
"Some nights, yeah, I think we can take the timeout. Other nights, give our guys the freedom to get out and run," he said. "But with how well they were guarding in that quarter and how hard it was for us to generate great looks, I felt in that transition, we were gonna have the best chance to get the look that we wanted."
Murray had fewer words for his response as to why he thought finishing the game in transition was the right call.
"I mean, I think you guys have seen me hit that shot enough, so. It was a good look, it just didn't go down," he said.
Murray finished with 18 points and 10 assists while Nikola Jokic led Denver with 41 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in their first loss at Ball Arena this postseason.
Game 3 of the NBA Finals tips off Wednesday in Miami.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why Denver coach Michael Malone didn't call a timeout at end of Game 2