West Notes: Nuggets, Michael Porter Jr, Lakers, Pelicans


Small forward Michael Porter Jr. seemed unhappy that he has not been playing at the end of some close games, as the West-leading Nuggets have lost four straight.

“(Coach Michael Malone) sat me the whole fourth and put me in with 20 seconds left, I think,” Porter said, via Jack Maloney of CBS Sports. “So, I mean it’s impossible to catch a rhythm then.”

Malone has instead opted for rookie forward Christian Braun, and indicated it all boils down to defense.

“(Porter) had a really good first half shooting the ball, but everybody in the third quarter played poorly, wasn’t just Michael Porter Jr.,” Malone said after Sunday’s loss to the Nets, via Maloney.  “Everybody struggled when you get outscored 37-18. Then the group that was in there in the fourth quarter played well. I rode with that group. I thought Christian Braun’s energy — in 11 minutes, seven points, three rebounds and had some really good defensive possessions. When you’re down like we were, you’re looking for a spark, you’re looking for somebody to give you some life, and I thought Christian did that.

“Listen, last three games our defense has been non-existent. I’m looking for guys that can guard. Christian has shown all year long, any chance he’s been given to play, he’s gone out there and done that.”

  • Denver has dropped to eighth in CBS’ latest power rankings. “As usual, Nikola Jokic did all he could, averaging 27 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists for the week on 47 percent 3-point shooting,” wrote Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports.


Guard D’Angelo Russell said a home loss to the Knicks on Sunday was a bitter pill to swallow, dropping the Lakers back down to the 11th seed in the West.

“That one hurt for us,” Russell told reporters. “We were battling, trying to do everything we could. Couldn’t get enough rebounds, enough stops. Making those shots just didn’t go our way, I guess. Can’t pinpoint anything, really. It’s tough.”

  • Star/forward Anthony Davis was a bit more direct. “I played terrible,” he said. “I couldn’t find my shot. Free throws. Layups. Everything. Guys did their job. I didn’t do my job tonight.”
  • In case you missed it, we have the latest on star forward LeBron James right here. The Lakers are 4-3 in James’ absence.


Small forward Trey Murphy III erupted for a career-high 41 points and a career-high nine 3-pointers in Sunday’s home win over the Trail Blazers, offering the Pelicans a shot in the arm they’ve so desperately needed.

“Trey was incredible,” coach Willie Green said. “He’s a shot-maker and he’s having an unbelievable year. I’m extremely proud of him.”

Along with hitting from the perimeter, Murphy is viewed as one of the NBA’s highest flyers, having participated in the dunk contest.

“My game is a very diverse game,” he said. “I can score in many different ways. So, I guess ending with an exclamation point like a dunk is pretty cool.”

  • The Pelicans improved to 10-21 without injured power forward Zion Williamson (hamstring). Which is certainly nothing to write home about. They’re 9-11 in games without both Williamson and small forward Brandon Ingram (ankle).

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