Why Nuggets HC Michael Malone forcefully pushed back on Michael Porter Jr.’s blame for Timberwolves loss

Tony Nguyen | Denver Nuggets
May 25, 2024

The Denver Nuggets had a tough end to their run in the 2024 NBA Playoffs. The Nuggets lost their Western Conference semifinal matchup to the Minnesota Timberwolves in seven games. Michael Porter Jr.’s offensive regression had him taking the blame for Denver’s early exit. However, head coach Michael Malone adamantly defended Porter.

Porter averaged 10.7 points and shot 32.5 percent on three-pointers during the seven-game Nuggets-Timberwolves series. His decline in production was surprising considering his regular season marks of 16.7 points and 39.7 percent from range. Porter took responsibility for his team’s defeat and expressed disappointment in his performance after the series.

“This was a terrible series,” Porter said, via Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. “I felt like I might’ve had one or two good games out of the seven we played.”

“It’s just tough because I know if I would have played up to par with how I normally play, we would have won this series. And there’s a lot of things that could have been different as a team, but I know if I had played my part, we would have won the series. And I’ve got to live with that,” Porter added.

Michael Porter Jr. may not have played up to standard, but Michael Malone is not letting him take the blame all by himself.

“I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I couldn’t disagree with [MPJ] more. I don’t want Michael Porter putting the series loss on him. We win together, we lose together. Michael is a huge part of our team. We do not beat the LA Lakers without Michael Porter’s stellar play, efficient play,” Malone said, per ClutchPoints’ Denver Nuggets Beat Reporter Rachel Strand.

Michael Malone knows the collective effort is greater than the individual. He and his team will bounce back stronger for 2024-25.

Nuggets look to reload after disappointing postseason exit 

Denver returned many of their 2023 NBA Finals contributors for the 2023-24 season. Their squad looked highly promising during the regular season. The Nuggets finished with a 57-25 record, which ranked them second in the Western Conference standings.

Furthermore, Nikola Jokic was as dominant as ever. He averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, 9.0 assists, and 1.4 steals through 79 games. Jokic spearheaded Denver’s attack, and as a result, he earned his third NBA MVP award.

The star center did all he could to help the Nuggets during the Timberwolves series, but Minnesota’s resistance was overwhelming in the end. The Timberwolves possessed two All-NBA caliber defenders in Jaden McDaniels and Rudy Gobert. Thus, Denver’s offense could not operate at the high level it was used to.

Nevertheless, if the Nuggets keep most of their players together, they will remain contenders for 2025. Two of the biggest areas Denver will likely address are shooting and frontcourt depth, per insight from ClutchPoints’ NBA Insider Brett Siegel.

Having increased depth to support Nikola Jokic and Aaron Gordon could be the key to helping Denver maintain their success. Of course, every team needs shooting. Surely, Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, and the rest of the team’s sharpshooters will find a way to stay consistent when it matters, just as they did in 2023.

It will be interesting to see how the Nuggets bounce back in 2024-25 as they look to bring another title to Denver.