The Nuggets beat the Heat again, and Michael Porter Jr. continues to play hot

The Nuggets beat the Heat again, and Michael Porter Jr. continues to play hot

The Denver Nuggets beat the Miami Heat once again, handing their former NBA Finals foe their 12th loss in the last 13 meetings between the two teams. This time the game was in South Florida, where the Nuggets pulled out a hard-fought 100-88 win, impressing Denver once again.

While Nikola Jokic did his job, it was the forwards playing alongside him who led the Nuggets to a win over Miami. Michael Porter Jr. scored a game-high 25 points on 16 shots and added seven rebounds. Aaron Gordon had a game-high 17 on the floor, scoring 16, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out four assists.

“If teams are going to sell out and take Nicole away, someone else has to step up and help carry the load. We had a lot of examples of that this evening,” head coach Michael Malone said.

Naturally, Jokic did his job, scoring 12 points on eight shots, adding 14 rebounds and six assists. But this may have been the dream match for Jokic, who saw all of his teammates step up.

“In the Western Conference, to be a team that hopes to make a deep playoff run, you have to have quality,” Malone said. “I mean you're never going to win with just one player. And we won a championship last year because yeah, Nicolas is a great player, Finals MVP, and Jamal Murray was a superhuman during the playoffs last year, but all the other guys you know, from KCP, to Aaron to Michael , to Bruce Brown to Jeff Green last year, they all stepped up and were the best versions of themselves and their roles and good teams have that if you look across the NBA, one guy might not have a night, while other players step up and I think that's the most important thing for us It's that all our players trust each other and it's fun to watch and it's a great team to coach in that regard.

For the second straight battle against the Heat, it was truly Porter's night. He had a 30-point double-double last time out against the Cultural Crew and this time he hit five deep balls into the net.

“Did you see the shots I was getting? They were wide-open threes,” Porter told ESPN after the game. “You know a couple of solid quarterbacks, too. So they're really my teammates, you know? We have a good, balanced team, so when they take something away, we have another option, and that was the case tonight.

Porter has been hot since the All-Star Game. By Wednesday, he was averaging 20.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per night on 55/41/92% shooting from the field and three and the free throw line, respectively. This could be the long-awaited star turn for MPJ, who has only gotten better in the last couple of years. He's become a more consistent rebounder and finisher – adding strength as a whole, while also creating slightly better rebounding, taking better care of the ball, and most importantly turning into a dependable defender. Although this MPJ isn't just one of those things on any given night, it's all combined with the world-famous shooter he's known for.

Porter's performance boosted the Nuggets' squad coming out of the All-Star break as they improved to 10-1 in the second half. This hot streak put Denver back in first place in the West with 16 games remaining in the regular season.

“It feels like we're back where we belong, you know what I mean,” Porter asked ESPN after the game. “We wanted the number one seed. We've played well since the All-Star break. We've got to keep it. There's a lot of good teams in the West. We've got to come out every game. People are coming to our place.”

While the Nuggets and almost everyone on the team has played well over the past month, one player has not: Reggie Jackson. The veteran guard has struggled for a long stretch, but he lit up Wednesday late to bury the hometown Heat with three shots late in the game, earning a closing nod from Malone.

“You look at what Reggie (Jackson) has been through recently – I know he's a better player than he has played recently – and he's got to stick with that.” Malone said. “I just hugged him and said, ‘I’m so proud of you.’ And he said, ‘Okay, coach, thank you for sticking with me.

(tags for translation) Sports Radio 104.3 Fan Denver (R) Colorado | Denver Sports Station 104.3 The Fan

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