National

Michael Porter Jr. praised his Nuggets teammates for support during emotional week

Michael Porter Jr. could understandably have been focused on matters besides basketball when the Denver Nuggets played the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of their first-round NBA playoff series on Saturday.

Earlier in the week, his brother Jontay Porter was issued a lifetime ban from the NBA for violating the league's gambling policy. Days later, his younger brother Coban Porter was sentenced to six years in prison for killing a woman in a drunk-driving crash.

Despite those difficulties for his family, Porter scored 19 points with eight rebounds in Denver's 114–103 victory, a performance that may have been unexpected considering what he dealt with throughout the week. His scoring total was third-highest for the Nuggets behind Nikola Jokic (32) and Jamal Murray (22), providing necessary depth in holding off an early challenge by the Lakers.

Asked after the game how he was able to turn his mind back to basketball after what happened with his brothers, Porter said it was a matter of compartmentalizing.

"I definitely tried to compartmentalize," Porter told the Denver Post's Troy Renck. "Some bad and sad stuff happened to a couple of my brothers, but I've got 15, 16 more brothers in here. So I know I had to be there for them and come in here and do my job, try to prepare to do it at a high level."

Porter added that the support of his teammates was a major help in concentrating on basketball.

"Each one of them texted me separately and just told me they've got my back and if i need anything, they got me," he said. "A lot of people have been reaching out; friends, family. To have these guys understand why I missed practice [Friday] and have my back has been big for me."

On Friday, while Porter was absent from practice, Nuggets coach Michael Malone complimented the fifth-year pro for how he's handled himself amid the adversity.

"It has not been easy for him. That's why I give him credit, because he's carrying so much in his heart and on his mind," Malone told reporters, via the Associated Press. "For him to go out there and do the job that he's doing, it speaks to how much strength that young man has."

The Nuggets continue their first-round series with the Lakers on Monday night in Denver. Tip-off for Game 2 is at 10 p.m. ET and will be televised on TNT.

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