Denver Nuggets 132-126 San Antonio Spurs: Three Takeaways
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone asked for consistency from Michael Porter Jr. after the rookie poured in a career-high 37-points Monday. The 22-year-old delivered that in spades as he led the Nuggets to a 132-126 win over the Spurs 48 hours later.
Porter Jr. scored 30 points and added a career-high 15 rebounds to rally his team to a second-straight win in the NBA’s restart. The Spurs were led by Derrick White, who had 23 points and seven assists.
"Great players bring it every night. I think the greatest challenge for any young, talented player like Michael Porter is consistency," Malone said after the game. "He's getting a great opportunity and he's taking full advantage of it."
The Nuggets will now prepare for the second game of a back-to-back when they face the Trail Blazers on Thursday.
Here are the takeaways:
Dominant third for the Joker
For the second-straight contest, Nikola Jokić overcame a slow start to come alive in the final 24 minutes of the game. The 25-year-old scored seven points in the first half. He would double that total in a dominant third quarter.
Entering Wednesday’s contest, Jokić had shot just 1 of 10 from behind the arc in the Nuggets’ first two games of the restart. In the third quarter, he broke out of that cold streak by knocking down three of his four attempts from downtown and scoring 14 points. He would also assist on two crucial plays for the Nuggets as they rallied back from nine down to tie the game.
Jokić wrapped up his night with 25 points, a game-high 11 assists and four rebounds.
MPJ, Morris continue searing bubble form
Fresh off a career-high 37-points, Porter Jr. picked up right where he left off against the Spurs. The Nuggets rookie had a career-high 15 rebounds and was unguardable from downtown, hitting 5 of 9.
The 22-year-old got hot early and helped the Nuggets take an 18-6 lead after hitting three consecutive shots from downtown. The flurry sparked a 14-point, seven-board first half from the rookie and he continued to have a hot hand in the final two quarters of the game. Porter Jr. would add another 12 points in the final quarter to help the Nuggets secure the result.
"For me, it's all about energy. So I knew even if tonight, I'm not going to shoot the ball amazing every night, but every night I can get on the glass. I can be active, I can get back on defense," Porter Jr. explained. "So that's something I got to bring every single game and then I think when I do that, it just opens up the rest of my game."
Another player who deserves props for second-straight strong performance is Monte Morris. The Nuggets reserve guard, who started a third consecutive game due to Jamal Murray being injured, finished the game with 19 points and four assists. It was also his second game in a row where he had zero turnovers. That has greatly contributed to the Nuggets improving in ball security.
After giving up 19 turnovers in the restart opening loss against the Heat, the Nuggets have averaged 13.5 turnovers in their last two games.
Bench steps up
Although the Nuggets’ second unit was outscored by their Spurs counterparts 70-43, Michael Malone and his staff can take encouragement from what was a bounce back performance from the group.
In the first two games of the bubble, the Nuggets bench was averaging 18 points per game. On Wednesday, the unit was sparked by Jerami Grant and PJ Dozier and both men made several impact plays on both sides of the floor throughout the contest.
Grant finished the game with 22 points on 57.1 percent shooting and Dozier finished with a career-high eight assists to go with 12 points.