Larry Nance Jr. Rips Michael Porter Jr. After His Criticism of Nuggets Coach Mike Malone

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David Berding-USA TODAY Sports

After Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. subtly criticized his team’s head coach, Mike Malone, on Wednesday night, Cleveland Cavaliers big man Larry Nance Jr. admonished the rookie for publicly airing such differences.

Porter’s criticism came during postgame comments after the Nuggets lost 96-85 to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 3 of their Western Conference playoff series.

After sitting out last season because of injury, Porter ended his first NBA regular season by averaging 9.3 points and 4.7 rebounds, numbers that don’t really pop off the page.

During Wednesday night’s defeat, Porter contributed 15 points and six rebounds, but was obviously frustrated by the Nuggets’ inability to put the ball in the basket.

Nance’s anger toward Porter likely stems from his upbringing, which has been steeped in basketball culture and how to approach the game. That began under his father, former Cavs legend Larry Nance Sr. and has continued through five seasons of NBA action.

Criticism of coaches takes place all the time, but most players are more adept at expressing their opinions away from the media.

That helps avoid conflicts within the locker room that could be damaging to a team’s fortunes. With the Nuggets now just one loss away from seeing their season end, they can’t afford to get caught up in such distracting side concerns.

Malone will likely ignore the remark, given his lengthy coaching career, which has included five seasons as an assistant with the Cavaliers between 2005 and 2010.

After first serving as head coach of the Sacramento Kings, Malone was named to that position with the Nuggets in 2015 and is in the midst of completing his fifth season in that role.

Instead of focusing on the comments from one of his players, Malone will use his experience to try to avoid seeing the season end for the Nuggets. Game 5 of the series will take place on Friday night.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.