Denver Nuggets striker Michael Porter Jr. became only the third rookie since 2000 to place consecutive 30-point doubles, but it was Nikola Jokic who left Gregg Popovich feeling like he’d just faced a Hall of Famer.
“Porter is a good young talent,” said the San Antonio Spurs manager. “And Jokic, he’s like a Larry Bird reincarnation. He does it all. It’s great. They were great.”
After exploding Monday to a record 37 points and 12 rebounds, Porter Jr. remained sizzling with 30 points and 15 career high rebounds to lift Denver to a 132-126 victory over the Spurs.
Meanwhile, Jokic wowed Popovich after the All-Star center had 25 points, 1
“They’ve never seen anything like it,” Popovich said of his younger players trying to defend Jokic. “He’s coming out and doing 3. He’s bouncing the ball, there should be an NBA rule, you can’t touch it to yourself. It’s Moses Malone. You know, he’s over there and he jumps about a quarter of an inch, so he hits him two or three times and then he takes it and puts it back inside.
“It’s not just luck. He always does. He’s very good on the scoreboard, obviously he’s perhaps the best big passer in the league. If not, then we’ll get closer. He’s a rather special player.”
This week, Porter Jr. showed the promise of a prospect who was once touted as the all-time # 1 potential choice if he was in good health. Choice No. 14 in the 2018 overall standings she was knocked out all last season to recover from back surgery. But in two consecutive games with three starters out, Porter Jr. has shown what he can do with a bigger role.
Porter Jr. punched his first three triples and scored 10 points in his first 10 minutes. Providing the Jokic with the first pass with a great athletic goal, the 6-10 Porter Jr. finished strong, hitting four of five shots, including two three-pointers, to score 12 points in the final 10:47.
After scoring 11 points and a rebound in the Nuggets’ lackluster 125-105 defeat to the Miami Heat last Saturday, Porter Jr. texted Denver manager Michael Malone three times telling him he’ll play better and asking the manager. to stay with him.
He has since responded by joining Trae Young and Blake Griffin as the only rookies since 2000 with consecutive 30-point doubles.
“I think the biggest challenge for any young and talented player like Michael Porter is consistency,” said Malone. “Can I bring that level of play every single night? Michael Porter, along with everyone else on our roster and coaching staff didn’t do a good job at the Miami game … People say I picked Michael Porter. Not there. ‘I did. Don’t exclude anyone. I chose us. “
Porter Jr. said he’s just trying to bring consistent energy into every game and learn how to get into a consistent routine.
“For me, it’s all about energy,” Porter Jr said. “So I knew that even if tonight I wouldn’t be shooting the ball fantastically every night. But every night I can go to the glass, I can be active, I can come back in defense. This is something that I have to bring every single game. And when I do, it opens up the rest of my game. “
“Obviously not all games will be 30 points and 15 rebounds”, Porter Jr added later. “Especially with all the talent we have in this team.”
After the game, Malone spoke for several minutes before abruptly ending his session with reporters after being thrilled with Porter Jr.’s potential and ability to shoot, bounce and defend.
“The funny thing is, I thought about it today thinking of 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.