Mur­ray warms up with club at sum­mer league, an­other step for­ward in his re­cov­ery


The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Kos­mider Nick Kos­mider: 303-954-1516, nkos­mider@den­ver­ or @nick­kos­mider

LAS VE­GAS» A few days af­ter he had off­sea­son surgery in April to re­pair two sports her­nias, Ja­mal Mur­ray gin­gerly walked around the Nuggets’ prac­tice court on the sec­ond floor of the Pepsi Cen­ter look­ing for some­thing, any­thing, to help him feel close to bas­ket­ball.

The most Mur­ray could do was whip a heavy rope back and forth, his up­per body do­ing the work. But some­thing was bet­ter than noth­ing for a player who loathes to be idle. The 20-year-old guard’s re­cov­ery has ac­cel­er­ated since that day. Itch­ing to take an­other step to­ward the court, Mur­ray warmed up with the Nuggets at the Thomas & Mack Cen­ter on Sun­day be­fore their sec­ond sum­mer league game on the UNLV cam­pus.

“He’s champ­ing at the bit,” Nuggets sum­mer league coach Micah Nori said of Mur­ray. “He was hurt all last year. He had the her­nia thing and still played 82 games. I think he’s fi­nally back to nor­mal and, to use a term from a for­mer Nugget, he’s got fresh leg and he wants to use them.”

Mur­ray, who ex­pects to be fully cleared by the start of train­ing camp in Septem­ber, ul­ti­mately played spec­ta­tor dur­ing the Nuggets’ 90-71 loss to Min­nesota, which dropped them to 0-2. The Nuggets know what they have in Mur­ray, a sec­ond-team all-rookie se­lec­tion. The hope for the Nuggets dur­ing the Las Ve­gas tour­na­ment is that they gain a clearer un­der­stand­ing of what some of their other young play­ers could bring to the ta­ble next sea­son.

Ma­lik Beasley seems de­ter­mined to carve him­self a role in the ro­ta­tion. Af­ter scor­ing 29 points on 12-of-30 shoot­ing in Den­ver’s loss to Hous­ton on Fri­day, the sec­ond-year pro from Florida State vowed to be more ef­fi­cient. For the most part he was, fin­ish­ing with 20 points on 8-of-17 shoot­ing. Beasley, who was 3-of-5 from 3-point range, has been one of the top scor­ers in the sum­mer league.

“It was a lit­tle bit bet­ter,” Beasley said. “I can still play bet­ter de­fense. I can at­tack the hole more. I would have got­ten calls later if I kept at­tack­ing.”

Beasley played in 22 games as a rookie, av­er­ag­ing 3.8 points. He spent most of the sea­son in the G-League (for­merly the D-League), where he ex­celled as a scorer. The 6-foot-5 guard dis­played more of that abil­ity over the week­end, cre­at­ing off the drib­ble and fin­ish­ing in tran­si­tion.

Juan­cho Her­nan­gomez, the other sec­ond-year pro on Den­ver’s sum­mer league ros­ter, added 18 points on 6-of-15 shoot­ing and a team-high seven re­bounds. Her­nan­gomez is likely to play at least one more game be­fore he joins the Span­ish na­tional team in prepa­ra­tion for Eurobas­ket 2017.

There weren’t many high­lights to find over­all for Den­ver in its sec­ond game. The Nuggets have given up an av­er­age of 96 points in two games, the high­est yield of any­one in the 24-team field.

Tyler Ly­don, Den­ver’s first-round pick in last month’s NBA draft, had a quiet sec­ond pro­fes­sional game. The 6-10 for­ward from Syra­cuse scored two points in 24 min­utes. He missed four of his five shots, in­clud­ing all three from 3-point range, while turn­ing the ball over twice and col­lect­ing four re­bounds.

Foot­notes. For­mer Colorado for­ward Xavier John­son made his pro­fes­sional de­but Sun­day, play­ing the fi­nal four min­utes of Den­ver’s loss. … For­mer Wy­oming guard Josh Adams scored nine points on 3-of-4 shoot­ing for Dal­las in its 88-77 vic­tory over Phoenix.

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