NBA

Porter Jr 'blocks out' criticism to bring Nuggets back into Clippers series

By Sports Desk September 12, 2020

Michael Porter Jr was keen to block out the criticism he received for his Game 4 post-match comments after draining a crucial late shot in a huge win for the Denver Nuggets against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The rookie, who finished 1-of-3 from the floor, drilled a three-pointer from the wing with the Nuggets up by two and with just over a minute remaining in Orlando.

Denver went on to win Game 5 111-105 and now trail the fancied Clippers 3-2 in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Porter had attracted criticism following defeat in the previous game when he suggested his scoring troubles in the second half, when he failed to add 15 points in the first, were due to not receiving the ball enough.

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard was among those to criticise Porter, who said he was not trying to be disrespectful to his team-mates.

"I kinda tried to block that out. Everything I said - I stand by what I say. And I didn't mean it in any type of disrespectful way or anything like that," Porter said. 

"Coaches and my team-mates, they all know that. We talked as a team. Everybody was on the same page coming into today. 

"But Dame and those guys, I respect all those guys - especially those superstars in the league talking to a young guy like me. You want to listen. You don't want to have an ego and think you're always right. 

"So, I took what those guys said and I listened to it. Everybody has their opinion, but that was blocked out before today and everybody was on the same page."

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said the comments had been discussed prior to Game 5 but paid tribute to Porter's confidence on the court.

"During the playoffs, the last thing you want is any kind of a distraction, and if those frustrations are there for Michael, or anybody, it's much better to keep those conversations internal, in the locker and amongst ourselves," Malone said.

"What you love about Michael is, whether it's his youthful inexperience or not really understanding the magnitude of the situation, he has supreme confidence.

"The guy is a tireless worker. He's a gym rat. And for every shot he makes in a game, he's had thousands upon thousands of reps in a practice gym. 

"So what it says is that he has confidence in himself, we have confidence in him, and maybe we didn't find him, he didn't make many shots before that, but every time that kid shoots the ball, I think it's going in."

The Clippers led by 13 points at one stage and Kawhi Leonard said the defeat was something to learn from.

"They are going to keep fighting. It's a lesson for us," Leonard said. "We had leads like this all year and teams have come back on us."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers added: "We definitely lost our discipline. There is no doubt about that. That would be the lesson."

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