SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Nuggets coach Michael Malone expanded his rotation to 10 players on Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns after fatigue contributed to last week’s home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Denver’s new-look rotation gave seven minutes to reserve forward Kenneth Faried, who hadn’t seen the floor since the Nuggets’ Dec. 15 win over the Pelicans, and more playing time to Malik Beasley, who had been in and out of Denver’s rotation as well.
After not playing Faried in the Nuggets’ 99-91 win over the Jazz on Friday, Malone said after the win that he’d need the power forward Saturday against the Kings.
Why? Because of his energy, especially with Denver on a back-to-back.
“If he does play, energy, rebounding,” Malone said pregame about what Faried brings. “I think what separates Kenneth from most power forwards is he’s an elite offensive rebounder. He gets you multiple extra possessions. He’s a great runner of the floor and I think just the energy.”
“This is our third game in four nights. Whether it’s Kenneth, whether it’s Malik, Torrey, Trey, Will Barton, we need guys off our bench to come into the game and impact the game with energy. I do not want to allow Sacramento to outwork us tonight. That can’t happen. They’re well-rested. We’re not as rested. We have to find a way to get through that mentally and bring great energy to start.”
With Sacramento regularly playing a slew of big men, Faried’s services could be called upon for a similar amount of minutes to what he played against Phoenix. Although the Kings could play smaller tonight with Zach Randolph (oral surgery) sidelined.
Dave Joerger is a Harris stan
Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris had quite the month of December. Stepping up for an injured Nikola Jokic, who missed seven games early in the month, Harris upped his scoring from 14.8 points per game in November to 17.9 in December.
Kings coach Dave Joerger took notice.
“I think he’s the kind of guy you build a franchise around,” Joerger said of Harris before the Nuggets took on the Kingson Saturday night. “He’s a quality dude, works hard and plays the way you’re supposed to play. And what he’s done with his game, I’ve always been a fan. Just very impressed. He continues to improve, he was rewarded with a contract. I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s got a moxie about him, a steadiness. He never goes faster than he wants to play. I really like him, and I think the future of their backcourt with those two guys is very bright.”
So far in 2018, Harris scored a game-high 36 points in a win over Phoenix earlier this week but struggled against Utah on Friday and scored just 13 points on 6-14 shooting.
Nuggets Projected Starters
Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Wilson Chandler Nikola Jokic, Mason Plumlee
Kings Projected Starters
De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple, Skal Labissiere, Willie Cauley-Stein