Nuggets Rookie Michael Porter Jr. Hurts Back, Out vs. Rockets

Michael Shapiro

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. was a late scratch from Denver's lineup before they face the Rockets at the Toyota Center on Wednesday.

Porter Jr. was not listed on the Nuggets' original injury report on Wednesday afternoon. He was ruled out with "back tightness" after pregame warm-ups. 

The Missouri product missed the entire 2018-19 season due to a back injury, and he did not play in eight of Denver's first 18 games this season. Concerns regarding Porter's back were a key reason for his slide to No. 14 in the 2018 NBA draft. 

Porter Jr. has shined of late as he begins to find his rhythm in Denver's rotation. He is averaging 16.8 points and 10 rebounds per game in his last four appearances, shooting 50% from three.

Nuggets head coach Mike Malone will have to battle much more than Porter's absence on Wednesday. Point guard Jamal Murray is out with an ankle sprain, while Gary Harris will sit due to a right abductor strain. Forward Paul Millsap will miss his eighth straight game as he deals with a left knee contusion. 

Houston has a clean bill of health as it looks to end a four-game losing streak on Wednesday. Austin Rivers will play after missing the last two games due to a thumb injury. 

The Rockets blitzed the Nuggets on New Year's Eve, defeating Denver 130-104 at the Toyota Center. James Harden led all scorers with 35 points, while five Houston players finished in double figures. Houston will play the Nuggets again on Sunday at the Pepsi Center in Denver.

Tip-off on Wednesday night is slated for 7 p.m. CT.