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Nuggets’ Michael Porter Jr. “tweaked” back in Game 1 loss, coach Michael Malone says

Manafort

PHOENIX – When Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. emerged from the locker room after halftime Monday night, he stood at midcourt with a sizable wrap around his midsection.

“The trainers told me he had tweaked it, I think end of the second quarter,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after the Nuggets dropped Game 1 to Phoenix 122-105. “(Porter) had it wrapped at halftime, (I) watched him play and (it) just didn’t seem right to me.”

Porter played less than 14 minutes in the second half, finishing with just three points on 1-of-5 shooting and three rebounds. He’d tallied over 17 minutes in the first half, with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He continued to wear the wrap while on the bench during the second half.

“I’m always concerned when I see a guy, obviously, having a wrap on his back,” he said. “I didn’t think, in that second half, Michael was moving the way that I’m used to seeing him move. I just spoke to him. I think he just tweaked it a little bit. He’ll get some treatment tonight, all day tomorrow, and I fully expect Michael to be ready to go come Wednesday.”

When Porter missed a 3-pointer with 4:11 left in the decisive third quarter, he appeared somewhat stiffer while roaming the court.

Malone said the decision to rest him most of the fourth quarter was because he didn’t think he was moving well, not because of effort.

“I just was concerned with the way he was moving out there,” Malone said. “It didn’t look right, on either end of the floor, trying to run him off screens, trying to get him open, knowing that we need his scoring punch. … I was just trying to do that really to protect Michael knowing that this is going to be a long series.”

The Nuggets can ill afford another injury to their second-most important scorer. Nikola Jokic managed just 22 points after a strong first half, and the only other Nugget to find any scoring success was Aaron Gordon, who had 18.

The Suns had four players with at least 20 points each and sent a resounding message about their offensive potency in their Game 1 win.

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