A physical game, highlighted by the Nuggets’ version of the Steel Curtain Defense, turned ugly Monday night at the Ball Arena.
Last season’s MVP, Denver center Nikola Jokic, leveled the Miami Heat’s Markleph Morris from behind with 2 minutes, 39 seconds remaining. Morris was previously charged with an apparent foul for his elbow at Jokic Moments. Clearly looking for vengeance, Jokic was kicked out and could see a multi-game suspension. Morris left the game and was clearly shaken.
The moment marked a 113-96 Denver win—the most impressive of the youth season.
The Nuggets’ defense took a major hit to the Heat, especially in the first three quarters.
The evening began with Nuggets coach Michael Malone informing the media that the team would be without valuable forward Michael Porter Jr. “for the foreseeable future”. Malone, as the coach is used to, talked about how the Nuggets would have to take on each other in Porter’s absence.
He did exactly that.
While Denver (6-4, 4-1 at home) is known for its offense, it entered the game, finishing first in the NBA in defense, allowing 96.8 points per game and shooting opponents 42.7%. kept for
Jokic notched his first triple-double of the season: 25 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.
Denver took a 64-49 lead in the half, beating Miami in every aspect. The Nuggets outlasted the Heat from 51.1% to 37.2% and trailed the Heat from 27-19. The highlight reel moments for Denver included Jokic’s perfect lead pass to Aaron Gordon for a slam that put Denver 55-38 ahead.
The Nuggets made it to the physical heat team and went strong in the first quarter to lead 30-25. Denver shot 45.8% off the field versus only 36.4% for Miami.
Denver took a 23–14 lead with 5:11 to go into the first quarter, when Jamaichael Greene pitched for an offensive rebound and cashed in with a putback. Monte Morris pulled out two 3-pointers and was 6-for-6 off the field for 10 points in the quarter.
Miami forward Jimmy Butler kept his team in the game, scoring 10 first-quarter points on three-for-four shots, all while converting four foul shots.
porter’s forecast. A few days after leaving a game with “low back pain,” Porter’s chances of getting back on the court soon don’t look good.
“It’s a process where we’re very cautious, talking to doctors, imaging all that sort of thing,” coach Michael Malone said ahead of Monday’s game. “For now, I would say that Michael is out for the foreseeable future.”
The phrase certainly took on an ominous tone.
However, Malone did not define precisely what “near future” means.
“And then, Michael can be back in a week, it can be more than that,” Malone said. “So when I say, ‘Near future,’ I don’t really mean it, I just know he’s not playing tonight.”
Considering Porter’s history of back issues, which have required two surgeries, his latest injury raises a red flag.
During the Nuggets’ win over the Rockets, Porter came off a limp after missing a breakaway layup. He didn’t get any lift as he tried to go for the rim. He remained in the game for a few minutes before leaving. At the time, the team called Porter’s injury “low back pain.”
Porter was tested on Sunday afternoon, two sources told The Post.
The 6-foot-10 forward, who signed a five-year, $173 million extension last season, was off to a shaky start, averaging only 9.9 points and 6.6 rebounds, shooting from 35.9% of the field (3- 20.8% from point range) in Denver’s first nine games.