Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. became just the third rookie since 2000 to post continuous 30-point double-doubles yet it was Nikola Jokic who left Gregg Popovich feeling like he had quite recently confronted a Hall of Famer.
“Porter is a fine young talent,” the San Antonio Spurs coach said. “And Jokic, he’s like a reincarnation of Larry Bird. He does everything. He’s amazing. They were great.”
In the wake of detonating for a career-high 37 points and 12 bounce back on Monday, Porter Jr. stayed red hot with 30 points and a career-high 15 bounce back to lift Denver to a 132-126 win over the Spurs.
In the interim, Jokic wowed Popovich after the All-Star center had 25 points, 11 assists and four bounce back – three going ahead the offensive glass. He likewise covered every one of the three of his 3-pointers in the second from last quarter to support the Nuggets (45-23) move to within half a game behind the LA Clippers for the second seed in the West regardless of playing without starters Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Will Barton.
“They’ve never seen anything like that,” Popovich said of his younger players trying to defend Jokic. “He’s stepping out and making 3’s. He’s rebounding the ball, there should be an NBA rule, you can’t tap it to yourself. He’s Moses Malone. You know, he’s down there and he jumps about a quarter of an inch, then he taps it two or three times and then he gets it and he lays it back in.
“It’s not just luck. He does it all the time. He is great on the board, he’s obviously maybe the best big man passer in the league. If not, then close to it. He’s a pretty special player.”
This week, Porter Jr. has shown the guarantee of a possibility that was once advertised as a potential No. 1 overall pick had he been healthy. The No. 14 overall pick in the 2018 draft passed on all of last season to recuperate from back surgery. Be that as it may, in two continuous games with three starters out, Porter Jr. has indicated what he can do with a greater role.
Porter Jr. penetrated his initial three triples and had 10 points in his initial 10 minutes. Furnishing the pass-first Jokic with a major athletic objective, the 6-10 Porter Jr. ended strong, hitting four-of-five shots, including two 3-pointers, to score 12 points in the last 10:47.
Subsequent to having 11 points and one bounce back in the Nuggets’ lackluster 125-105 misfortune to the Miami Heat last Saturday, Porter Jr. messaged Denver coach Michael Malone three times disclosing to him that he will play better and requesting that the coach stay by him.
He has since reacted by joining Trae Young and Blake Griffin as the only rookies since 2000 with sequential 30-point double-doubles.
“I think the greatest challenge for any young, talented player like Michael Porter is consistency,” Malone said. “Can I bring that level of play every single night? Michael Porter, along with everybody else on our roster and coaching staff did not do a good job in the Miami game… People are reporting that I singled Michael Porter out. I didn’t single anybody out. I singled us out.”
Porter Jr. said he is simply attempting to bring reliable energy every game and learn how to get into a consistent routine.
“For me, it is all about energy,” Porter Jr. said. “So I knew even if tonight, I am not going to shoot the ball amazing every night. But every night I can get on the glass, I can be active, I can be back on defense. That is something I got to bring every single game. And when I do that, it just opens up the rest of my game.”
“Obviously not every game is going to be a 30-point, 15-rebound game,” Porter Jr. later added. “Especially with all the talent that we have on this team.”
After the game, Malone talked for a few minutes before unexpectedly finishing his session with columnists in the wake of raving about Porter Jr’s. potential and ability to shoot, bounce back and protect.
“The funny thing is, I thought about this today thinking about Michael Porter,” Malone said. “Michael Porter was not selected to play in the Rising Stars game this year.
“Are you kidding me?” Malone asked before leaving.