OKLAHOMA CITY – Gary Harris guards his words almost as ruthlessly as he checks opponents.
If his prolonged shooting slump is getting to him, he isn’t letting on.
“I’m not worried about that,” Harris said at Thursday’s practice before the Nuggets (38-17) traveled to Oklahoma City. “It’s basketball at the end of the day. It’s a game. Go out there. I’ll be alright.”
The last 15 games Harris played before the All-Star break were particularly rough for him, and that included missing five games with an adductor strain. Over that span, Harris managed just 7.9 points on 32 percent shooting from the field, including 19 percent from 3-point range. On the season, Harris’ 10.2 points are the lowest since his rookie year.
Harris, who became a new dad less than a month ago, spent the All-Star break back home in Indiana. He said he didn’t do much other than hang out with friends and relax. He wouldn’t divulge any details about his workouts.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone said that Harris has looked good in their two practices since returning from the break but wants to see it translate to the games.
“(Friday) night will be the best answer to that, and the reason I say that is, when you watch Gary in practice, when you watch him work out in his (player development) sessions, he’s been shooting the ball lights out,” Malone said. “So now hopefully, after some time off, going back, spending some time with his son, his family and just relaxing. Going out there and playing his game. I thought in that Laker game, I thought he hit a couple big shots for us. So hopefully he can just go out there and play and not put whatever pressure he’s putting on himself. Just relax and play.”
With only 27 games left in the regular season, and the Nuggets firmly entrenched in the race for homecourt advantage, Malone is counting on an improved second half for his starting two guard.
“We need Gary Harris to be the best team that we can be,” Malone said.