Cavaliers Nuggets Basketball

Denver Nuggets guard Bones Hyland waits to take the court against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday in Denver.

The Nuggets’ struggling bench unit might receive a shake-up even if Nikola Jokic plays Friday.

If Jokic sits, either Jeff Green or JaMychal Green are the likely replacement in the starting lineup, potentially creating bench minutes for someone else. If Jokic plays, the bench rotation still might look a little different.

“I think I got to throw Bones out there and let him see what he can get going with that group,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said of rookie Bones Hyland.

“One thing you’ve got to love about Bizzy Bones is he’s going to come in and bring some life. He’s shown that every time he gets a chance. He can put the ball in the basket.”

Hyland has only played in one of the Nuggets’ four games. He played 10 minutes in the loss to Cleveland, scored seven points on five shots and provided a much-needed spark after PJ Dozier picked up two quick fouls. The Nuggets’ bench was outscored 42-13 but will be better, PJ Dozier believes.

“It’s hard to say we’re going to be consistent in the first four games. I don’t feel like you build consistency until you put games together for real, but like I said, we’re just trying to figure things out,” Dozier said. “We will figure it out.”

Dozier was among the guys Malone listed as possible leaders of the second unit alongside the Greens and back-up point guard Facundo Campazzo. Dozier’s play hasn’t quite matched that yet. He’s averaging 5.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Malone expressed his confidence in Dozier throughout the preseason but hasn’t had that faith pay off just yet.

“I know PJ Dozier is a much better player than he’s shown,” Malone said. “I got to find a way to get PJ going, because you guys heard me say all preseason going into the season how important he was, and I haven’t seen the PJ Dozier that I know we’re capable of seeing. Hopefully, we can find a way to get him going as well.”

Nuggets not worried about Porter’s shooting slump to start season

After establishing himself as an elite scorer last season, Michael Porter Jr.’s shooting is off to a sluggish start.

Through four games and 28 attempts from 3-point range, Porter’s shooting a pedestrian 32.1% to start the season. He’s taken at least 10 shots in every game, topped by an 18-attempt game Tuesday, but is yet to score more than 15 points, which he achieved in the season-opening win at Phoenix.

“He knows what he’s got to do, just stay at it,” Will Barton III said.

“We all have a stretch during the season where we struggle whether it’s the beginning, the middle or the end. The thing with him is just continue to play hard, don’t worry about shots falling right now, try to do other things — compete hard on defense, rebound, just do other things. If you have good energy, the tide will turn.”

Porter’s got an elevated role and a new contract but neither is behind his slow start, his coach believes.

“I think that would be an easy thing to say, but I think he’s just not making shots right now. I think sometimes for Michael — and most players — when you’re not making shots, you can allow that to impact other areas of your game. How often do you see a guy make a shot, come down to the other end, slap the floor and get into a stance?” Malone said.

“I know he’s a much better shooter than he’s shown. He will get out of that shooting slump, but while he’s in that, just find other ways to impact the game and help your teammates.”

Malone, training staff pleased with Murray’s progress

The Nuggets have yet to offer a timeline for Jamal Murray’s return. The team’s starting point guard, when healthy, tore his anterior cruciate ligament in an April 12 game at Golden State. He’s taken part in pregame shooting sessions and helped with some scouting of opponents as he waits for his return.

“He’s attacking it every day,” Malone said of Murray’s rehab. “When I talk with our training staff, they all say he’s doing an amazing job of how hard he’s working. There are good days and bad days with rehab. I’m proud of him. We’re trying to help him out, trying to keep him engaged.”

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