Home / World News / Denver Nuggets move Will Barton back into starting lineup at New Orleans – The Denver Post

Denver Nuggets move Will Barton back into starting lineup at New Orleans – The Denver Post

NEW ORLEANS — The Denver Nuggets shifted their short-handed rotation again Wednesday night against the Pelicans, moving Will Barton back into the starting lineup at small forward and starting Wilson Chandler at power forward and Kenneth Faried at center.

Denver went small to combat a Pelicans lineup that was missing star big man Anthony Davis. The Nuggets were without Nikola Jokic (sprained ankle) and Paul Millsap (wrist surgery) for the third consecutive game and had previously started Faried and Mason Plumlee inside for the past two contests.

Barton was the Nuggets’ leading scorer entering Wednesday (15.8 points per game) while adding 5.2 rebounds and three assists primarily as a “spark” off the bench.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone did not reveal the change during his pregame media availability, but said “if small ball will give us the chance to win, we’ll definitely use it.”

Hack a Mason? While making his second consecutive start Monday at the Dallas Mavericks, Plumlee went to the free-throw line six times. He missed five of those attempts, prompting Dallas to start intentionally fouling Plumlee.

That strategy effectively sent Plumlee to the bench for the entire second quarter. Malone understood the tactic, since Plumlee is shooting just 41.2 percent from the stripe this season and 57.3 percent in his career. Though Plumlee’s shot has a flat trajectory, Malone stressed he’s frequently watched Plumlee go 7-of-10 from the line in practice settings.

“So much of it is mental,” Malone said. “Now you get into a game and you miss your first (attempt), and now your mind is racing. You’re putting so much pressure on yourself. You feel for the guy. Mason’s heart is in the right place. He’s a great competitor and he’s a good player.”

Millsap progressing. Millsap had a follow-up doctor’s appointment Tuesday, Malone said, where he was expected to get a hard cast put on his surgically repaired left wrist. Millsap remains in Denver to recover, but will join the Nuggets on future road trips once he’s cleared to resume traveling.

Jokic, meanwhile, continues to go through conditioning work during practices and before games. Malone said he’s still “holding out hope” that Jokic can return sometime during this six-game road trip, but stressed the team will not rush him back.

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