Michael Porter Jr. not coming out of Nuggets’ lineup



MIAMI — The question wasn’t about Michael Porter Jr. — it wasn’t even about present day — but Michael Malone has a way of segueing any news conference topic into the real message he wants to get across.

In this unprompted example: his trust in the struggling Porter.

“Right now, people want Michael Porter out of the lineup,” Malone said before Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Friday night. “Michael Porter is not coming out of the lineup, man.”

The question was about how Malone learned to trust Jamal Murray, dating back to a 2019 playoff game vs. the Spurs in which Murray started a game poorly but found his stroke in the second half. Malone said he knows it’s common for people to panic and clamor for a lineup change when someone isn’t playing well.

Porter was 3 for 19 from 3-point range in this series as Malone spoke, emphasizing there has been “zero discussion about making any changes” to Denver’s starting five.

“We would not be in this position if it wasn’t for him,” Malone said. “We are not just Nikola and Jamal. We are a basketball team, Michael being a big part of that. As far as him kind of getting back into his groove, I talked to him today about understanding that we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all the contributions and growth that you’ve shown us throughout this year being healthy. Go out there and play, be aggressive, shoot the ball with confidence and, remember, you’re not a specialist. We don’t bring in specialists. Those are guys that are not suited for us.

“I have zero doubt in my mind that Michael Porter is going to have a big game and help us win a championship.”

Spoelstra fields Miami’s first Messi question

It’s rare and maybe even preposterous for a basketball coach to be questioned about an entirely different sport 90 minutes before a must-win NBA Finals game, but that’s the power of Lionel Messi.

A reporter covering the Finals from across the pond for The Guardian asked Heat coach Eric Spoelstra about how his experience coaching a transcendent, world-famous athlete (LeBron James) applies to Inter Miami, the local MLS team, signing Messi to a contract. Spoelstra didn’t exactly answer the question directly, but he was entertained by it.


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