Harrington to play despite knee injury
Al Harrington doesn't want to sit out with a sore right knee when the Denver Nuggets are very much in the thick of the playoff chase.
So, the team's top reserve plans to play through a torn meniscus Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Harrington hurt the knee in a win over the Orlando Magic on April 1 and has been fighting through the persistent pain ever since. He will wear a protective brace when the Nuggets face Kevin Love and the Timberwolves.
After the morning practice, Harrington said the knee will limit his explosiveness and he may not be able to box out and rebound with the same energy he typically does.
But he wants to give it a go, especially since the Nuggets are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
''Ain't no time (to be hurt),'' said Harrington, who's averaging 14.5 points a game and 6.2 rebounds.
Still, he's going to be smart about his balky knee, chatting with team doctors just to make sure he can hold off on potential surgery until the offseason.
''My biggest concern is making sure I can't make myself worse from this, put myself in danger to hurt something else,'' Harrington said. ''That's the biggest thing I'm going to through with the doctors, to make sure I can continue to play at a high level without putting myself at a risk.''
The Nuggets have come to rely on Harrington not only for his offensive contributions, but his leadership on the floor as well. Although Harrington enters the game off the bench, he still averages nearly 28 minutes a game, which is on par with the starters.
He's certainly earned the respect of coach George Karl, who counts on him, along with Arron Afflalo and Ty Lawson, to keep the Nuggets running smoothly in an injury-plagued season.
''Doesn't Al get some votes this year?'' Karl said of the team's MVP race. ''I think he does. Ty, Arron and Al would probably be the three guys you throw onto the list of votes. They sound like three guys I'd go for.''
Harrington has played four games on his sore knee since the ailment first surfaced. The discomfort is something he can handle - for the most part.
''If I can keep playing, I want to keep playing,'' Harrington said. ''I want to finish this thing out. I think we've had a good season. This is the best part of the season, when you're in the hunt like this. I really don't want to leave the guys hanging.''
Karl said he will keep a close watch on Harrington.
''Some games maybe we extend him, some games maybe we sit him,'' Karl explained.
Given Harrington's fickle knee, Karl could be leaning on rookie Kenneth Faried even more. Faried, whose nickname is ''Manimal,'' is coming off a monster night in a 123-84 win over Golden State on Monday. He finished with 27 points and 17 boards.
''We all thought he was going to be a good player,'' Karl said of the Morehead State standout. ''To get him playing at this level and be as important and responsible to how successful we are, I don't think anyone could've expected that.''
The health of Harrington is the latest setback the Nuggets have had to deal with this season. Forward Wilson Chandler remains questionable with a hip strain, an injury that's sidelined him for the last five games.
However, Danilo Gallinari was back in the lineup Monday after sitting out 10 games because of a broken left thumb. He played 30 minutes and scored 15 points.
''Injuries are a difficult area for any coach. It becomes very frustrating when we've had a lot of them,'' Karl said. ''I get kind of annoyed because I listen to all these other games and everybody talks about their injuries. It seems like they (broadcasters) never talk about our injuries.
''I don't think we're underachieving this year. I think we're overachieving.''