Bones Hyland Says He’s ‘on the Same Page’ as Mike Malone After Benching Against the Pelicans

The Denver Nuggets are off to a sluggish start in December after taking a third straight loss last night to the Dallas Mavericks. Although they finished November with four straight wins, the Nuggets seemed to have steadily climbed the ladder of the Western Conference with the typical MVP play of Nikola Jokic.

However, in the final month of the year, the Joker hasn’t been able to get much-valued production from the Nuggets bench unit, who’s currently averaging the fifth most turnovers (6.2), the third-worst Plus-Minus (-3.6), and the eighth-lowest steal rate (2.3).

The dysfunction was evident Sunday night when Pelicans backup point guard Jose Alvarado erupted for 38 points on 8-11 shooting from downtown. Head coach Mike Malone has been around long enough to know he has to send a statement to his bench unit, and he started by sitting out Bones Hyland for the rest of the second half against the Pelicans.

“As I told him this morning, ‘Offensively, we need your scoring, but it’s required to give forth the same effort on both ends of the floor,’” Malone said on Hyland’s production from the bench. “I felt he competed, I felt he fought, he contested, he tried to be physical with guys. That’s all I’m ever asking for, from Bones or for anybody.”

After the zero points against the Pels, Hyland responded against Dallas the way Malone would love to see, scoring 20 points with five assists and making those hustle plays with two steals.

Though the loss, Hyland has committed to his role and hopes to keep track of that ‘effort’ Malone eluded to.

“We’re on the same page now,” Hyland said on Malone. “I know I can guard. It’s not something that’s mind-blowing or crazy.”

Of course, accountability has to be taken for the rest of the team, but Malone has been made appreciative of the authentic leadership of his backup point guard. Hyland’s explosive outing against the Mavs was an exposure to how he handles criticism of his play and the mentality he feels he needs to respond in.

The Nuggets still have enough time to turn things around, and there’s no secret that winning a championship takes a team effort. Finishing this month strong can be part of that journey, and answering the bench unit’s woes is the way to begin for Malone.