Gary Harris could be shut down until after All-Star Break, Nuggets coach says

Barring something bonkers, Michael Malone has a playoff team — the Denver Nuggets’ first postseason bunch since 2013 — on his hands. With the long view in mind, the Nuggets’ coach admitted Sunday afternoon that he’s considering shutting guard Gary Harris down until after the all-star break.

“Knowing that no one has said, ‘He’s out until after the all-star break,’ but I mean — in my mind, I’m thinking that it’s probably the most prudent decision to make,” Malone said of the Nuggets’ shooting guard, who’s currently day to day with groin issues. “You (think), ‘Hey, let’s rush him back for Miami,’ and then …”

With the Nuggets staring at home contests up next against Miami (on Monday) and Sacramento (on Wednesday) before the All-Star Game in Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday, Malone said the temptation would be strong to rest Harris, who has battled hamstring and adductor problems in recent weeks, rather than risk long-term damage. Harris hasn’t played this month and shot just .393 from the floor and averaged 11.3 points in January.

“Gary Harris has had a very un-Gary-Harris-like season because of the injuries,” the coach said of the veteran off guard, who didn’t fully participate in all facets of Sunday’s practice. “And because you’re in and you’re out, there’s no consistency.

“I think, with all of our players, we’re taking a big-picture, long-term approach,” Malone explained. “Knowing that not only do we have these two games and 25 after the break, but hopefully we have some postseason games as well, and having Gary healthy (then) would be very beneficial for us.”

Demanding urgency on D: The collective 3-point defense — no shock, given that the Nuggets gave up an average of 15 treys per contest during their recent 0-3 road swing through Detroit, Brooklyn and Philadelphia — was a major point of discussion during film review before practice Sunday, as well as during drills later in the morning.

“It’s everything,” Malone groused. “(It) starts in transition: We don’t get back with any sense of urgency. We don’t talk. I mean, the lack of communication is comical at times, and how hard is it to say, ‘Switch,’ ‘Screen’? But we don’t do that, for some reason. So it starts there. But the 3-point defense is really the most alarming for me.

“I also think in pick-and-rolls, teams don’t feel us. Early in the year, we were into the ball, our bigs were up, we had a presence. Right now, (our) bigs are being lazy, they’re down the floor. Our smalls are being soft and running (late) to the ball. And if I’m an opposing point guard and I play pick-and-roll, and no one’s going to put a body on me, I’m really comfortable, and I can make a pinpoint pass whenever I want.”

After flashing one of the NBA’s top five defenses through the first two months of the season, the Nuggets head into the final two games before the all-star break ranked 15th in the league in defensive efficiency.

“Probably, they’re making shots and …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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