Awful”: Heated Exchange Breaks As Shaq & Charles Barkley Bicker Over Coach Malone & Nuggets Tantrums

Awful”: Heated Exchange Breaks As Shaq & Charles Barkley Bicker Over Coach Malone & Nuggets Tantrums

With the first half of Game 2 in the books, the Denver Nuggets looked far from a Championship team early in the night. Not only did Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns outscore the entire Nuggets roster in the first period, but the duo’s physical play led to high tensions in Denver’s corner. And a lot of it was because of the officiating not going in Denver’s favour, causing head coach Mike Malone and the rest of the squad to lose their patience, and even giving rise to a disagreement between Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley.

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Things got heated in Game 2 early in the first quarter as the Timberwolves had a physical approach throughout. First, during a high contact play in the post, KAT seemingly elbowed Jamal Murray in the chest, causing the point guard to fall to the floor. Then, moments later, Anthony Edwards ran through KCP to finish a layup. However, despite the physicality, the officials did not call an offensive foul on either KAT or Ant-Man, which led to a heated Mike Malone going face to face with the official in a yelling match. Then, during the halftime show on TNT, Charles Barkley called the no-foul on KAT “awful” and said, “I understand why coach Malone was mad. Karl-Anthony Towns just ran over somebody.”

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While Barkley believed KAT should have been called for a charge, Shaq supported the Timberwolves Center and denied any foul, putting the blame on the Nuggets defenders, “Stop flopping. It’s the playoffs.” Having dished out several similar blows during his prime, Big Diesel claimed just because a defender falls, does not mean it’s a foul.

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Bad Officiating or Great Defense?
Despite Shaq not agreeing with him, Barkley stuck to his point and even threw the officials of the Knicks vs Pacers game under the bus to prove his point, “Just like them boneheads in the New York Knicks game earlier kept making bad calls. That was a charge.” A similarly controversial incident took place at MSG earlier tonight when Myles Turner was called for an illegal screen on Donte DiVincenzo, a call that might have led to the Pacers losing the first game of the series.

However, regardless of the officials’ blunders, Barkley also commended the Timberwolves’ lockdown defense in the first half to hold off the Nuggets. Even though the Timberwolves are playing without their defensive anchor Rudy Gobert, they took care of business in the first half, causing the Nuggets to turn the ball over eleven times. Adding eight blocks and seven steals to the board, the Timberwolves were a nightmare for the defending Champions. Moreover, they limited Denver to only 35 points in the first half, one of their worst performances in recent playoffs.

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Whether it was bad officiating or the Timberwolves great defense, the Nuggets found themselves on the losing end at the end of the night. With 0-2 down after the 106-80 blowout loss and heading into enemy territory for the next two games, we might be looking at the defending Champions getting dethroned by a young Timberwolves squad led by Anthony Edwards.

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Rohan Bhaunt

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Rohan Singh Bhaunt, an NBA Writer at EssentiallySports, boasts a background as a divisional basketball player and an NBA enthusiast spanning over a decade. His extensive knowledge of the sport enables him to intricately explore its nuances, presenting a fresh outlook. Rohan’s dive into the NBA newsdesk at ES commenced with witnessing LeBron James secure his inaugural championship in Miami.
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