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Gary Harris far from a return as Nuggets hang on for dear life

Christian Clark Avatar
March 30, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Denver Nuggets will be without their second-leading scorer for “another week at least.” Gary Harris, who sprained his right knee after landing awkwardly during a March 15 game against the Detroit Pistons, is still “a ways way” from being able to play again, Nuggets coach Michael Michael Malone said Friday.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to see him for a while,” Malone said before his team took on the Oklahoma City Thunder. “Just being completely honest. Obviously, I’m not a doctor. But talking to our training staff, Gary has been working hard to get back, but I think he’s still a ways away.

“It’s obviously unfortunate because Gary is such an integral part of our team on both ends with what we’re trying to do. You couldn’t pick a worse time of the year for Gary Harris to be out, which is unfortunate because it’s killing him not to be out there. Tonight will be the seventh game that’s he’s missed. I don’t foresee him playing maybe for another week at least.”

Harris leads the Nuggets in minutes (34.8 mpg) and is second in scoring average (17.7 ppg). Denver went 2-4 in the first six games of its seven-game road trip without him.

The Nuggets’ playoff hopes are already hanging on by a thread. Losing Harris for at least another week is a severe blow. Denver faces the Bucks on Sunday, the Pacers on Tuesday and the Timberwolves on Thursday. After that, there are only three games remaining in its regular season.

One player in particular who has struggled in Harris’ absence is Jamal Murray. Denver’s second-year point guard is averaging 18.7 points per game on the road trip, but he’s shooting just 34.6 percent from the field. Malone said that at times Murray is trying to “do too much” without Harris.

“I think Jamal at times is trying to do too much, trying to make up for the absence of Gary Harris,” Malone said. “I think as a young player, Jamal Murray is not a selfish player, but he’s finding himself over-dribbling, trying to take tough shots, instead of trusting his teammates and trusting the offense where the ball will find him to get a much better shot. I think that’s the greatest challenge that Jamal’s having right now. He’s young. He’s fatigued. You see it in his play, and right now without Gary, his backcourt partner, he’s trying to do too much to help his team, which you admire. But he has to understand that other guys can help him as well.”

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