The Denver Nuggets are nonetheless the heavy favorites to be the No. 1 seed within the Western Conference, however their cruise by the common season has hit some tough water. On Sunday, their livid late comeback try in opposition to the Brooklyn Nets fell brief, as they dropped their third consecutive sport, which equals their longest dropping streak of the season.
While they definitely aren’t at panic stations, it does seem that some frustration is constructing. Michael Porter Jr., who completed with 23 factors, three rebounds and 4 assists on 9-of-13 from the sector, did not play within the fourth quarter of the loss to the Nets till the ultimate 23 seconds, and took a jab at head coach Michael Malone after the sport.
“[Malone] sat me the entire fourth and put me in with 20 seconds left, I feel,” Porter mentioned. “So, I imply it is unattainable to catch a rhythm then.”
Malone was requested straight what went into the choice to sit down Porter within the fourth. To little shock, it in the end got here all the way down to protection.
“[Porter] had a extremely good first half taking pictures the ball, however all people within the third quarter performed poorly, wasn’t simply Michael Porter Jr.,” Malone mentioned. “Everybody struggled whenever you get outscored 37-18. Then the group that was in there within the fourth quarter performed nicely. I rode with that group. I assumed Christian Braun’s power — in 11 minutes, seven factors, three rebounds and had some actually good defensive possessions. When you are down like we had been, you are on the lookout for a spark, you are on the lookout for someone to offer you some life, and I assumed Christian did that.
“Listen, final three video games our protection has been non-existent. I’m on the lookout for guys that may guard. Christian has proven all 12 months lengthy, any likelihood he is been given to play, he is gone on the market and performed that.”
The fourth-quarter benching continued what has been a tough stretch for Porter. In the primary two video games of the dropping streak he had 12 factors on 13 pictures of their loss to the Chicago Bulls, and was ejected for grabbing Zach Collins’ throat through the defeat to the San Antonio Spurs.
Porter will not be a very good defender and has performed an element within the Nuggets’ struggles on that facet of the ball, each not too long ago and all through the season. However, he is removed from the one concern, and it was shocking to see Malone single him out on this method, particularly given the evening he was having taking pictures the ball. It additionally highlights a serious concern for because the Nuggets attempt to get again on monitor forward of the playoffs.
Porter is the workforce’s third-leading scorer, and is placing up 17.1 factors and 5.3 rebounds per sport on 49.1/41.2/80.8 taking pictures splits. He’s the most effective high-volume 3-point shooter on a workforce that is twenty third within the league in three-point makes an attempt per sport (31.4), and in his 50 appearances this season, the Nuggets are 14-3 when he reaches 20 factors and 20-13 when he doesn’t.
In brief, they reallly want the taking pictures risk he gives, but it surely’s clear Malone does not belief his protection. So what occurs come playoff time when each of these facets of the sport develop into extra necessary than ever? That dilemma, which applies to a lesser extent to Nikola Jokic, is among the primary causes many aren’t offered on the Nuggets as a real contender regardless of their sturdy common season displaying.
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