DENVER (AP) — Michael Porter Jr.'s breakout season lightened the load for Nikola Jokic during his MVP-worthy season and soothed the sting of Jamal Murray's season-ending knee injury.
So, Facundo Campazzo only meant to dish out some praise to his Denver teammate when asked about him recently.
“He's a terrible ... terrible?" the 30-year-old rookie Argentinian guard stammered as he fumbled for the right words in English.
“Terrible is good, right?”
No, responded a public relations employee off to the side of Campazzo's postgame Zoom interview.
“The opposite of terrible!” Campazzo hurriedly corrected through an embarrassed laugh. “He's a great shooter!”
Campazzo smoothly shook off his stumble just as he has all other rookie mistakes he's made this season.
Ultimately, nothing was lost in translation.
And for Denver, little has been lost in transition.
A common take after Murray tore his left ACL at Golden State on April 12 was that the Nuggets' title hopes were waylaid along with their rising star guard.
Monte Morris and Will Barton would soon join Murray on the sideline with pulled hamstrings and P.J. Dozier injured a hip.
Instead of dooming the Nuggets, however, the rash of injuries allowed coach Michael Malone to experiment with his lineups.
With Campazzo, newly signed Austin Rivers and others rotating through the ever-changing lineups, the Nuggets won 13 of their final 18 games. Malone was named the NBA's Coach of the Month for leading the Nuggets to a 13-3 record in April, including 9-2 after Murray got hurt.
The Nuggets, who now have Morris back at full strength and are hoping to get Barton back soon, maintained their hold on the West's No. 3 seed.
Still, they say they'll miss Murray, who averaged 31 points in the playoffs last year, when they face the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers in the first round.
“Jamal was a big shot taker and a big shot maker for us,” Aaron Gordon said. “So, some of that offensive firepower for us is gone.”
While the banged-up Nuggets welcomed the nearly weeklong break before the series opener Saturday night in Denver, the Blazers hope the layoff didn't cool them off after winning 10 of their final 12 regular-season games.