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Gary Harris Practices, Eyes Friday Return to Action
Nuggets guard Gary Harris practiced on Wednesday and said pain in his ailing right shoulder is subsiding, all leading him to a probable return to the court on Friday against New Orleans.
Harris has missed the last two games due to soreness in his right shoulder. He said he injured the shoulder in the Nuggets’ win over Oklahoma City on Nov. 9. Harris hasn’t played since. But Harris did make the trip with the team to Portland on Monday, which was a good sign, and will have had three days of rest and rehab before Friday’s game.
“I’m just taking it day-by-day,” Harris said. “I went through practice today, and if everything goes good, I want to play on Friday.”
Nuggets coach Michael Malone took it a step further, saying he would be “surprised” if Harris isn’t ready to roll against the Pelicans.
Asked to give his best guess about Harris’ availability on Friday, Malone said, “I would say it’s pretty good. He was able to go through portions of practice today with contact. And I think really it’s more from a mental confidence standpoint with that shoulder. But watching him today, and we’ll have another opportunity tomorrow before Friday’s game, I would be surprised if he doesn’t play.”
The Nuggets have started Will Barton in Harris’ place at shooting guard. And while Barton has excelled in the role, his absence as a reserve has hurt the Nuggets’ scoring production off the bench.
“It really affects our bench,” Malone said. “Will Barton and Jamal (Murray) were great against Orlando. But now all of a sudden against Portland, we had no pop off of our bench. And that’s where Will is so effective because he affects the game in so many ways.”
Harris had the shoulder x-rayed. Those came back negative.
“So, I’m just making sure I’m right,” Harris said.
Meanwhile, Juancho Hernangomez went through his first practice in a long while on Wednesday. He’d missed 10 games due to a bout with mononucleosis, and while he’s been on the bench – and used sparingly in one of the last two games -- he’s not been through a real practice because the Nuggets haven’t had one since his return.
“I’m getting better,” Hernangomez said. “I’m getting better every day. I’m feeling good, feeling rested. I’m working hard in the gym, I’m working hard on the court to get back as soon as possible to help my team.”
Hernangomez played a minute in the Nuggets’ win over Orlando, and Malone said that was mainly because the starters had logged so many minutes in the game he needed to get them off the court. Getting back into the rotation, where he had been a mainstay, is the goal for the second-year forward now.
And getting a couple of days of practice are huge for him.
“For me, it’s really good,” Hernangomez said. “To be back in the routine, to be back on the practice court, to be back with my team. It’s good to be back and help the team out.”
Said Malone: “You could tell he hadn’t practiced in a little bit, but just kind of getting him back into practice, acclimating him to playing five-on-five live with contact, hopefully that speeds up his recovery and gets him back as soon as possible.”
Christopher Dempsey: email@example.com and @chrisadempsey on Twitter.