“You can’t always blame other people.”


CHICAGO — Coming off arguably his worst game of the season on Friday night in Boston, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. looked inward.

After registering a season-low seven points and snatching only four rebounds in Denver’s humbling loss to last season’s Eastern Conference Champions, Porter reached out to coach Michael Malone.

He apologized for not being on top of his game and not being engaged against a team where there was no margin for error. He vowed he’d be better next game.

“That, in and of itself, is maturity,” Malone said. “That, in and of itself, is ownership.”

The next game came Sunday, when Porter reset and exploded for a season-high 31 points on 6-of-9 3-point shooting in just 24 minutes. Porter was shooting into such a big basket that Malone flipped his rotation on the fly, opting to stagger Jamal Murray with the second unit instead of taking Porter out of the game. In Malone’s words, he wasn’t going to be the one to snuff Porter’s fire out.

Not only was his stroke pure, but his defensive engagement was, in Malone’s estimation, as good as he’s ever seen it.

“As simple as it sounds, a lot of guys are not willing to look into that mirror and be honest with themselves,” Malone said.

It was another significant step in Porter’s maturation and yet another reason to believe that the Nuggets’ championship aspirations have legitimacy.

Asked specifically about looking in the mirror and holding himself accountable, Porter shared arguably his most astute personal reflection in years.

“You gotta grow,” he told The Denver Post. “You can’t always blame other people. Sometimes, you’re the common denominator, so I’m always trying to see what I can do to grow.”

This, less than a week after he watched from the bench as the Nuggets sealed their victory in San Antonio and vowed: “Even if I’m not on the floor at the end of the game, we got a lot of good players, so I’m not gonna be selfish,” he said.


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