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Mike Malone inspired by beating Raptors despite Gary Harris’ early exit


The Denver Nuggets pulled off a statement win against the NBA-leading Toronto Raptors on Monday night, despite getting only nine minutes from starting shooting guard Gary Harris, who left the game in the first quarter with a groin injury. The win played a sense of pride for coach Mike Malone, who was forced to make on-the-fly adjustments without the team’s best perimeter defender present.

Harris; who is slated to get an MRI on Tuesday morning, is the team’s third leading scorer, only 0.1 points per game behind Nikola Jokic and 0.7 behind point man Jamal Murray — leaving a vast void against a clear championship contender that had won eight games in a row coming into the matchup.

“To gut this win out tonight, undermanned… to have enough poise down the stretch speaks volumes to a young team that is growing up and really maturing in big moments, and it’s great to see,” said Malone post-game, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “I am so proud of our guys for that.”

The Nuggets have extended their win streak to six games, the longest of the season after winning four and consequently five more through a 9-1 start to the regular season.

“That’s a helluva win for us,” said Malone. “That’s a great team over there. But we are not satisfied. We have three more games on this trip. It’s a business trip, and we’ll continue to try to get more wins and see what we can do moving forward.”

Besides a beastly triple-double by Jokic and an all-around strong line from Murray, the Nuggets benefitted from a sharpshooting night from Malik Beasley, who replaced Harris and poured in 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including a perfect 3-of-3 from deep to give the team a clear boost from distance.