- Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. followed up a 37-point, 12-rebound performance on Monday with a 30-point, 15-rebound showing on Wednesday, prompting rave reviews from his coach and teammates. As Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes, Michael Malone referred to Porter as a “cornerstone” of the franchise. Meanwhile, injured swingman Will Barton – whom Porter is replacing in the staring lineup – tweeted that the second-year forward is “special,” adding that he “can’t be on a leash with that type (of) ability.”
Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley left Tuesday’s game against Phoenix in the first quarter with a left calf injury and didn’t return, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. The injury isn’t considered serious, but Doc Rivers suggested after the game that the team will play it safe, with the postseason not scheduled to begin until August 17.
“I don’t think it’s bad,” the Clippers’ head coach said. “We’re going to be very cautious, I can tell you that.”
Beverley’s injury occurred just as Lou Williams returned to action for the Clippers following his 10-day quarantine period. If Beverley is able to get back on the court soon and Montrezl Harrell reports to the team within the next week or so, L.A. should be back at full strength before the playoffs get underway.
Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:
- Heat guard Goran Dragic suffered a slight ankle sprain near the end of Tuesday’s win over Boston, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that X-rays on the ankle came back negative.
- Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams, who left Tuesday’s game with a sore left foot, has been diagnosed with a tendon strain after undergoing an MRI, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Carter-Williams is doubtful to play on Wednesday vs. Toronto.
- The Nuggets will once again be without Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) on Wednesday, but the team has upgraded Jamal Murray (hamstring) to questionable (Twitter link). Denver is in action again on Thursday, so it won’t be a surprise if Murray ends up playing one half of the back-to-back set.
[UPDATE: Murray was ruled out for Wednesday’s game]
- Speaking of back-to-backs, the Heat held Jimmy Butler (right ankle soreness) out of the second leg of a back-to-back set on Tuesday, while the Celtics are doing the same with Kemba Walker on Wednesday (Twitter link). Both teams are likely just playing it safe with their All-Stars.
With Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Will Barton sidelined again, Michael Porter Jr. delivered a career-high 37 points in a Nuggets win on Monday, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. Porter had told head coach Michael Malone he was determined to step up after an underwhelming showing on Saturday vs. Miami.
“Especially with Jamal, Gary and Will out, I got to be a guy that steps up and kind of takes on more of a role,” Porter added. “I told (Malone) that I understand that and that it wouldn’t happen again.”
While the Nuggets will need healthy and productive versions of Murray, Harris, and Barton to maximize their potential postseason upside, the opportunity to increase Porter’s role and confidence is a silver lining of the team’s current situation. The young forward could be one of Denver’s X-factors in the playoffs.
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- The Trail Blazers have a pair of stars – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum – in their backcourt and their frontcourt has been fortified by the return of Jusuf Nurkic and fellow big man Zach Collins. However, the wing has been an area of concern for the team all season, especially with Rodney Hood sidelined due to a torn Achilles. Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian takes a look at how emerging youngster Gary Trent Jr. – a restricted free agent in 2021 – is filling that void this summer.
- In and out of the Thunder‘s rotation over the course of the 2019/20 season, Hamidou Diallo has reclaimed a key role off the bench, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Diallo – who has a minimum-salary team option for 2020/21 – had nine points in Oklahoma City’s Saturday win over Utah, then was a +19 on Monday in a game the Thunder lost by eight points.
- Dutch big man Henk Norel announced his retirement this week due to ongoing knee issues, as relayed by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Norel never played in the NBA, but was selected 47th overall in the 2009 draft by the Timberwolves, who still hold his NBA rights.
- Nuggets guard Troy Daniels discussed his time with the Lakers, his path to Denver and more in an interview with Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Daniels was waived by the Lakers on March 1 and signed with the Nuggets four days later. “Early in my years, my agent used to tell me, he said it’s always good to be wanted,” Daniels said. “It’s good to feel wanted, and I want to be where I’m wanted.”
Joel Embiid missed the Sixers’ last two scrimmage games due to right calf tightness. However, he’s expected to play on Saturday in the team’s seeding opener against the Pacers, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Embiid suffered the calf injury during a July 24 scrimmage against the Grizzlies and played just 13 minutes. He also battled injuries prior to the stoppage of play in March. He missed nine games with a torn ligament in his right hand, and sat out five others with a left shoulder sprain, Pompey notes.
The Sixers can improve their playoff seeding during the next eight games. They are tied for fifth place in the East with Indiana at 39-26.
We have more injury-related news:
- Sixers forward Glenn Robinson III is doubtful to play on Saturday, Pompey notes in the same story. He has a left hip pointer, which he suffered during a scrimmage against the Thunder on Sunday.
- The Nuggets will go without at least two key players in their seeding opener on Saturday, the team’s PR department tweets. Guard Gary Harris has a right hip muscle strain while Will Barton is dealing with right knee soreness. Reserve big man Vlatko Cancar (left foot fracture) will also miss the game. Starting point guard Jamal Murray is questionable duo to left hamstring tightness.
- Spurs veteran guard Patty Mills didn’t play in the team’s first game in Orlando but it wasn’t injury-related, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk tweets. Coach Gregg Popovich simply wanted to use his younger guards more extensively. Shooting guard Bryn Forbes‘ absence was injury-related — he’s dealing with a sore right quad.
- The health and conditioning of his players are among Michael Malone‘s most pressing concerns with the Nuggets‘ seeding games about to get underway, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Injuries and late arrivals make it unclear which players will be at full speed when Denver resumes play on Saturday, Singer observes.
- Nuggets backup point guard Monte Morris notes that he was entirely asymptomatic while testing positive for the coronavirus, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. “I never felt any kind of way in terms of symptoms,” he said. “I felt fine.”
- Nuggets bench guard P.J. Dozier cleared his quarantine this morning, according to The Denver Post’s Mike Singer (Twitter link). Singer notes that, with Dozier’s new availability, every non-injured Nuggets player can now suit up for seeding games. Dozier arrived in Orlando for the season restart on July 28.
The 6’8″ floor-spacing bench guard out of South Carolina has seen limited time for Denver in his third season, averaging 11.1 minutes per game for just 21 of the team’s 65 games. He is a career 39.5% three-point shooter, and has connected on 39.6% of his 1.3 attempts this season.
Dozier will need to immediately quarantine himself in his hotel room, clear a physical, and test negative for the coronavirus for two straight days before he can join the Nuggets for team activities. This timeline would allow him to participate in the team’s first seeding game on Saturday, August 1 against the Heat.
Starting point guard Jamal Murray, starting small forward Will Barton, bench small forward Keita Bates-Diop, and exciting rookie forward Michael Porter Jr. were only available to partake in their first scrimmage game yesterday, while backup point guard Monte Morris just cleared quarantine protocols and appears probable for Saturday’s first seeding game on Saturday, as we previously noted.
Coach Michael Malone said earlier this week that, prior to yesterday, the team’s various player absences have meant that scrimmages against other teams have served as the only time the Nuggets could play five-on-five basketball, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link). The Nuggets sport a 43-22 record ahead of their season restart this weekend, and are currently the No. 3 seed in the West.
The Nuggets have been one of the most short-handed teams at the NBA’s campus so far, having been limited to just eight players in each of their first two scrimmages this summer. However, reinforcements are on the way for Monday’s game against Orlando.
Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told reporters this afternoon that Jamal Murray, Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr., and Keita Bates-Diop will all be available to play in tonight’s game, increasing the team’s roster count to 12 (Twitter link via Kendra Andrews of The Athletic).
While he won’t be active tonight, Nuggets guard Monte Morris moved one step closer to getting back on the court as well, having cleared quarantine, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post tweets. He seems likely to be ready by the time Denver plays its first seeding game vs. Miami on Saturday.
Bol Bol hasn’t played in an official NBA game yet, but he’s the talk of Orlando after his performance in the Nuggets‘ first two scrimmages. Pressed into service because of Denver’s shortage of players, the 7’2″ rookie posted 16 points and six blocks in Wednesday’s game, then followed that with 15 points last night.
A foot injury ended Bol’s college career after nine games at Oregon and caused him to slip to the 44th pick in the draft. The Nuggets may gotten a steal with that pick, which Bol’s trainer, Julius V, believed all along.
“He has elite feel for the game,” he told Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “If he was 6’3″, he could be an elite point guard. … He’s one of those guys, regardless of height or size, he would be a potential NBA player because he has ball skills and feel. … The height makes him a unicorn.”
There’s more Nuggets news to pass along:
- Coach Michael Malone is confident that Michael Porter Jr. can adapt quickly, even though he hasn’t worked with the rookie forward since the hiatus began, Singer writes in a separate story. Porter just arrived in Orlando a few days ago and hasn’t been able to practice yet because he’s been quarantined. “I’ve stayed in touch with him, I’ve talked to him,” Malone said. “From everything he’s told me, he’s in great shape, he’s stayed ready. So when he gets an opportunity relatively soon to start practicing and playing, I have no doubt that he’ll be out there in great shape. He’s young and he truly loves to play, he truly loves to work out. I don’t anticipate any real issues. Yes, it’s four months off, but I think Michael will have a very quick return to that playing mindset.”
- Paul Millsap had to sit out Saturday’s scrimmage after missing a coronavirus test, tweets Rachel Nichols of ESPN. Under the NBA’s protocol for the Walt Disney World campus, he was required to be quarantined in his hotel room until he produces a negative test.
- Point guard Jamal Murray was held out of the scrimmage because of slight tightness in his hamstring, according to Nichols (Twitter link). The Nuggets also rested Will Barton, who has a knee issue, and Gary Harris, who is dealing with hip pain.