Denver Nuggets rookie guard Bones Hyland’s message was simple after returning from a one-game absence for a violation of team rules.
“It was a point of emphasis to myself to be locked in and just go out there and provide whatever I can,” Hyland said after Friday’s win in Atlanta. “Lesson learned, move on from it.”
After their scheduled Sunday game against the Brooklyn Nets was postponed due to the Nets’ COVID-19 outbreak, Hyland and the Nuggets get another chance to move forward Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.
Hyland is coming off his best game of the season, when he scored 24 points against the Hawks on 8-of-11 shooting.
He’s proving to be a valuable piece of the Nuggets’ second unit, and the way he responded after being held out for a game was telling to Denver coach Michael Malone.
“A lot of times, when things like that happen, you have a choice,” Malone said. “You can feel sorry for yourself. He came in, had a smile on his face and played the right way. We’ll need that every night from Bones Hyland. He has that chance to be a difference-maker.”
Thunder coach Mark Daigneault has tinkered with his lineup recently, bringing Darius Bazley off the bench for the first time since his rookie season.
Saturday, he started Aaron Wiggins at power forward in Bazley’s spot with Jeremiah Robinson-Earl at center. In Monday’s win over the Grizzlies, it was Robinson-Earl at power forward with Derrick Favors in the middle.
Daigneault said he wants to get a look at Robinson-Earl, a rookie, in different spots.
“It’s just changing their experiences and not giving them a sterile developmental environment because then they’re developing inside of a test tube,” Daigneault said. “The minute they have to adjust off of that, you haven’t conditioned them to do so.”
Daigneault said Robinson-Earl would continue to get chances in both spots.
“It’s not that we’re pulling the plug on the (center) minute,” Daigneault said. “We’re excited about him, and when you’re excited about a player as young as he is and as inexperienced as he is, you want to put him in situations that you can evaluate him in different contexts and stretch the limits of what he is capable of.”
The Thunder have won back-to-back games and four of their last seven, including Monday’s 102-99 win in Memphis.
Denver has won five of its last eight.
The Nuggets’ JaMychal Green has missed the last three games with an ankle injury, while Bol Bol has been in the league’s health and safety protocols.
While much of the league has struggled with COVID-19 outbreaks recently, the Thunder have yet to have a player miss a game due to COVID this season.
“There’s probably some randomness to the fact that we haven’t got hit by it,” Daigneault said recently. “But this year, we’re certainly hyper-aware of what’s going on and trying to promote as much safety as we can.”
Wednesday’s game is the first of four meetings between the teams this season.
The Nuggets have beaten the Thunder in four consecutive meetings, including all three last season.
–Field Level Media