NBA Interviews: Nuggets' Gary Harris - "We’re a difficult team to stop."

Denver Nuggets v Portland Trail Blazers

Following a searing start, their best in franchise history, Denver is now challenged with sustaining such momentum as the NBA closes off week six of its 2019/20 regular season.

A record 13 wins and three losses place the Nuggets in second place in the Western Conference, third in the league overall, and in a position to rack up over 66 wins in total. 

Coach Michael Malone praises his star players, including team points leader from Wednesday’s game, Jerami Grant: “Now, we don’t have Russell Westbrook and Paul George or Steven Adams but I wanted to put him in areas where I feel and believe he can attack. He’s done that and the last four or five games we’ve seen a more aggressive Grant, and that’s great for him, but more importantly, it’s great for us.”

“Jamal [Murray] has really taken on the challenge of assuming those responsibilities. Being more vocal, being more of a leader and it’s great to see. This is Jamal’s fourth year and obviously, we want him to be a great player, but we also want him to assume that leadership mantel. And he’s trying. It’s not something where he has arrived yet. For some of our other guys they’re learning to find their voice and get comfortable with their voice.”

With regards to the Nuggets’ defence, coach Malone expresses the difficulty his team has experienced when guarding three-point shooters as “only the truly elite defensive teams are able to do that at a high level”. But he vows to rise to the challenge by using a third and fourth effort to bounce back from any breakdowns on the court.

Nuggets’ Guard Gary Harris has been receiving much of the praise recently as one of the keys essential to Denver’s defensive line. Teammate Murray commends his effort: “He’s done a great job. An amazing job. Every star player that comes in here he’s done a great job of taking away of what they do best. We’re not joking around with first team (all-defence), he’s been showing it. Not just one game, not just two games but all season long.”

“He guarded me once in the scrimmage we had in training camp and I couldn’t even get open, I couldn’t even get the ball. I watched Gary’s highlights on defence, I watched how he moved his feet, passing angles he takes. It’s definitely someone I can learn from.”

Asked about his team’s defence, Harris said: “We’re slowly but surely getting there. We’re putting together some decent games. We still haven’t put together a four-quarter game but we’re getting there. We have some things to clean up.”

Malone also commends the all-round effort of Nuggets guard Will Barton: “He’s a complete player. That’s what you love about Will. He can create for himself, he can create for his teammates. He’s our second-leading rebounder and I can’t say enough about that because he’s been really good on both ends of the floor in all areas.”

As Harris appreciates the chances Barton creates for the team on offence: “He puts a lot of pressure on the defence and it opens up a lot of things for everybody else. He can score from all three levels, he handles the ball, he rebounds, he pushes it, he dictates the pace. With Will playing like that we’re at our best… We thrive off of his energy. When he plays like that and all of our guys are clicking, we’re a difficult team to stop.”

Denver Nugget is currently placed in the second place in the Western conference with 13wins so far this season. An exciting team to keep an eye on. 

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