How to distribute the Nuggets’ backup big man’s minutes is proving to be a conundrum for coach Michael Malone. The latest example came in Monday night’s loss at Portland, when Kenneth Faried played 17 minutes and Mason Plumlee got just six.

Malone knows perhaps the only way to fully clean up this part of the rotation is to remove Plumlee or Faried from it. Though the coach is not ready to take that drastic of a step, he is prepared to make more difficult decisions from game to game.

“As a leader, I’m not trying to keep people happy,” Malone said. “If I wanted to keep people happy, I’d sell ice cream. My job is to help this team win as many games as possible. …

“I go into games with plans. But sometimes, the flow of the game, the personality of the game makes you adjust.”

Malone knew he had a backup power forward overflow entering training camp, as Faried is a franchise mainstay, Plumlee signed a lucrative contract extension during the offseason and Trey Lyles was acquired via a draft-night trade. The coach’s first task was to narrow that group from three to two, with Lyles ultimately becoming the odd man out.