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Nuggets Notes: Millsap Turns In Best Performance of Post-Injury Return

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The wheels for Paul Millsap to potentially have a breakout game had been set in motion days earlier after the star forward and Nuggets coach Michael Malone sat down to discuss an increased role in the offense.

“Me and coach had a good talk a few days ago,” Millsap said. “He wanted me to be more part of the offense. He wanted me to get the ball a little bit more. If the coach is going to do that, stick his neck out like that, you know, you’ve got to produce.”

And produce, Millsap did.

It started right away. He scored 11 points in the first quarter of the Nuggets’ win at Chicago on Wednesday night. And he scored in typical Millsap ways – from the left and right block; on drives; with a 3-point shot. He got to the free throw line as well.

His 22 points (on 8-of-9 shooting) was the second-highest point total for him in a game this season. Part of the reason for his success was a left wrist that didn’t give him as many problems.

“I felt like the wrist was feeling pretty good,” Millsap said. “The wrist was a little sore the past few days, but was able to get the soreness down and get a little more range of motion. So, I feel more comfortable with the ball in my left hand. So, I’ve just got to stay aggressive and keep attacking.”

Harris Rounding Into Form: So, yes. This has happened.

Devin Harris does something on offense, or defense. Later, he gets to the bench and checks to make sure it was right.

“I go over to the bench and am like ‘Was that right?’” he said. “They’re like ‘No. That wasn’t right.’”

He laughed.

Those instances don’t happen much anymore. Harris, the Nuggets reserve point guard, has gotten very comfortable with his new team’s schemes on both offense and defense lately, and that has allowed him the freedom to play fast and with aggressiveness.

The result? In his last four games, Harris is averaging 12.3 points on 46.4 percent shooting from the field, including 41.2 percent from the 3-point line, along with 4.5 assists.

“Just becoming more comfortable,” Harris said. “Taking more ownership with the second unit, being able to call plays that I see that will fit, that can help us. The tough thing about trying to fit into a team with 20 games to go in a playoff push, it’s a lot harder than people think. But just the more comfortable I get, the better my play will be.”

His take on learning the new system, especially defensively?

“It’s terminology, it’s defensive schemes that are different,” Harris said. “They help differently. They do things a lot different than what I’m used to. It’s one thing to do it in practice, in slow motion. But when things are going 100 miles per hour, and trying to get to the right spot you’re going to make some mistakes. But they’ve been great in allowing me to play through those mistakes. And that’s why you see I’m playing better.”

Craig’s List of Days Down to Two: Torrey Craig began Thursday knowing there were just two days left in the rule that limits players with two-way contracts to just 45 days with the big club. The limitation ends when the G-League season is over, which is on Saturday.

And you bet he’s counting the hours down.

“You have no idea how ready I am for those two days to be up,” he said, laughing. “So, I can just be free and just not worry about anything. Just be with the team – practice, travel with the team and things like that.”

Craig has been stellar in the three games he’s played since returning from a hamstring injury that cost him the better part of six weeks of action. He’s averaging 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds in just 15.2 minutes. He’s shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 60.0 percent from the 3-point line. He still hasn’t had a chance to practice with the team yet, so he’s feeling his way through each game.

“I’m still just trying to find my way,” Craig said. “Take it one day at a time.”

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter

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