A benching helped play a role in turning around Al Harrington's game.
The Nuggets forward, who recently was in horrific slump, did not play March 19 at Miami. Since then, he's averaged 19.7 points in three games, raising his season average to 10.5.
"I kind of got to the point where I didn't play in Miami because I kind of took some things personally," Harrington said. "I just got to play with a chip on my shoulder. Obviously, when I play like that, I think I can be that much more effective."
Since the benching against the Heat, Harrington has had 15 points Monday against Toronto, a game-high 27 Wednesday against San Antonio and 17 Friday against Washington. All three were Denver wins.
"I think he's had a little more of an edge and intensity to his practice," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "There's no question when he didn't play in Miami, he's come back with a little chip on his shoulder. (Ticked) off. It makes me feel good. It shows his pride and his passion to what to be on the court."
It's understandable Harrington had seen his minutes get cut. Before not playing at Miami, the reserve had shot 12-for-35 and averaged 4.5 points in his previous six games.
The Nuggets have a lot more depth since a Feb. 22 trade in which star forward Carmelo Anthony was sent to New York. With that in mind, Harrington realizes he's got to produce quickly when inserted into the game.
"I always felt like a rhythm player," said Harrington, who shot 8-for-16 Friday and was one of four Denver players to tie for team-high scoring honors with 17 points. "Sometimes it's hard for me to get going in four or five minutes. But I realize the more aggressive and the better I play, the more I play. So I'm going to bank on that."
His teammates are confident that Harrington can close out in fine fashion what has been an erratic season for him. He's shooting just 42.1 percent, and his scoring average has dropped from 17.7 last season with New York.
"It's great to see Al play well," guard J.R. Smith said. "We know what kind of player he is and has been in this league for a long time. He's had big games against us (prior to this season). He's a great player, and we're going to need him."
NUGGETS 114, WIZARDS 94: The Nuggets won Friday at home because they scored the final 15 points of the first quarter to demoralize Washington, which dropped to an NBA-worst 1-34 on the road. After the Wizards led 16-15, the Nuggets went on their run to take a 30-16 lead. Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, Chris Andersen and Al Harrington all scored 17 points for the Nuggets. Jordan Crawford had a game-high 19 for Washington.
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