“I can’t let myself be” a non-factor
Michael Porter Jr. took full responsibility for his lackluster Game 4 showing and vowed Tuesday night would be different.
The Nuggets’ second-year forward has seen his shot attempts slide from 21, to 13, to 11 to just three in Saturday’s Game 4. Part of it was Norman Powell’s smothering defense, but a fair amount was Porter himself. He got bumped off his spots, didn’t help himself on the glass and rarely made himself available within the flow of the offense.
“It’s on us as a team, but a lot of it’s on me as well,” Porter said. “If I’m not getting any actions, I gotta figure it out in transition, on the glass. I can’t let myself be as small of a factor as I was the last couple games, in my opinion.”
Porter managed just three points and five rebounds in 23 minutes in Saturday’s blowout loss. For the series, he’s made just 8-of-24 from 3-point range.
After assessing film with Nuggets coaches and his personal trainers, he said he found numerous areas to address and reverse the trend of his offensive impact. If the Blazers are going to show him multiple defenders — as they did when he came around screens in Game 4 — then he said he can find his scoring elsewhere. That includes taking advantage of mismatches in the post. Despite Powell’s aggression, Porter still has at least six inches on him.
He also vowed to hit the glass harder, on both ends. Offensively, that can open up easy looks. Defensively, if Porter snatches the rebound, it’s a lot easier to stay engaged in the offense if he’s taking the ball up court. The 6-foot-10 pogo stick hasn’t topped five rebounds in any of the last three games.
“I need to get back on the glass,” he said. “I know I’m a very good rebounder but I haven’t been rebounding like I need to be.”
One of the issues has been hanging onto the ball once he gets his mitts on it. Too often, Porter has lost the ball after gaining possession.
Up and down the roster, players and coach Michael Malone used the term “soft” to describe their Game 4 effort. There was no better example than Porter, who was invisible and a non-factor when the Nuggets could least afford it.
“My job as a head coach is to help Michael Porter, but I also told him, he has to help himself,” said Malone.
Still no Barton: Will Barton participated in all of practice Monday, but that didn’t include any live action, according to Malone.
Barton, who suffered a hamstring strain five weeks ago at Golden State, is making progress but has yet to be cleared by the Nuggets’ trainers.
“It has nothing to do with Will Barton wanting or not wanting to,” Malone said. “He wants to play.”
Barton was listed as out for Game 5, but Malone didn’t rule out a return in Game 6 or 7.