Nuggets’ Martin rests tender knee, misses practice
DENVER (AP) – Forward Kenyon Martin missed the Denver Nuggets’ final practice before Game 3 of their first-round matchup with Utah, resting the balky left knee that caused him to miss 18 games late in the season.
Martin was held out of Thursday’s workout – which included a surprise visit from coach George Karl – as a precaution. The team said his availability for Friday night’s game will be determined at game time.
“The knee feels good but we want to use him for the game,” acting head coach Adrian Dantley said. “He’s not practicing today. He’s just resting the knee.”
Martin has played in five straight games, including the first two playoff games, since returning April 10 from platelet rich plasma therapy to treat a severe bout of tendinitis in the knee.
Martin followed a 12-rebound, seven-point performance in the Nuggets’ 126-113 series-opening win with 15 points and three rebounds in nearly 32 minutes in Monday night’s 114-111 loss.
Meanwhile, the Nuggets flew Thursday afternoon to Salt Lake City, where they have lost five of their past six games.
Before the team’s departure, Karl, who continues to recover from an aggressive treatment regimen in his battle against neck and throat cancer, paid a surprise 15-minute visit to the club during its closed practice session, according to the Nuggets’ website.
It was the first time Karl had made it to a practice since his six-week regimen of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, the team said.
Dantley said he also had a chance to meet with Karl the day before.
“We talked some basketball and he gave me some opinions on things, what we need to do,” said Dantley, who is 12-9 filling in for Karl this season, including 1-1 in the playoffs. “He feels like we’ll be OK. It was a pretty good visit.”
And what was Karl’s biggest piece of advice?
“We can’t let (Deron) Williams hurt us,” Dantley said. “We have to take the ball out of his hands. That means when he comes down the court on the left side, we don’t have three guys over here hugging on the guy on the weakside. That means sprint back to the paint, keep vision on Williams at all times.”
Williams, helping to make up for the absence of injured Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko, sparked the Jazz in Game 2 by getting 33 points and 14 assists.