Malone backs struggling MPJ with needed and big endorsement

Jun 8, 2023, 2:15 PM

Michael Porter Jr....

Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

MIAMI—Michael Porter Jr. has only hit three shots from deep through three games of the NBA Finals and despite the Denver Nuggets best shooter struggling to stroke it, his team is up 2-1 in the series.

Porter had a terrific Game 1 despite not shooting well but his Game 2 was so bad that many thought Michael Malone’s ripping was targeted at MPJ. Game 3 was a bit better from Porter, collecting seven rebounds as the Nuggets went plus-25 on the glass. Though he was the team’s third-leading scorer this season and only scored two points in the 109-94 win.

“Well, I think so many people are quick to dismiss people. Michael Porter isn’t making shots right now, and we know he is a great shooter. We know what he is capable of,” Malone said. “But he had seven rebounds last night, and he had some really good defensive possessions and possessions in which he contested shots and was working on that end.”

Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray carried the Nuggets but in part Murray, Porter and Christian Braun‘s rebounding supplemented the big man’s effort.

“In this business, if you are just a specialist, we’re not for you. We don’t like specialists. We like basketball players,” Malone said. “Michael Porter is not making shots. He has to find a way to help impact winning through being an unselfish player on offense, being a defensive-minded player, and being somebody that rebounds the basketball. And his shot is going to fall.”

The Nuggets need two more games to win their first-ever title. Now in June, Porter hasn’t had a 20-point game in more than a month. If the Heat go all out in stopping Jokic and Murray, it might be time for Porter to step up.

“If he’s taking the right shots and we’re generating the right shots for him, he’s got to keep shooting the ball because that is the only way he’s going to get out of that slump,” Malone said. “But we believe in Michael. He is our starting small forward. I have zero doubt he is going to have a very big game coming up here that is going to help us win this championship.”

“It’s been a couple of rough games for me. I think I played hard defensively pretty good. Still tried to rebound the ball while I was out there,” Porter said. “Really, I’m just glad the team won. I know there are going to be a couple of games this series where the team is going to need me on the offensive end. I’m looking toward trying to bounce back in that area as well.”



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