NUGGETS

Nuggets lose another star player to NBA’s COVID protocols

Nov 17, 2022, 5:22 PM
Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic...
Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets were already down Nikola Jokic due to the NBA’s COVID protocols and Aaron Gordon due to illness; now they’ll be without Jamal Murray, too, because of COVID protocol.

Murray had a co-team-high 21 points last night when the Nuggets lost 106-103 at home to the New York Knicks without Jokic and Gordon. Murray’s 21 was matched by Bones Hyland, who returned to the lineup after missing a few games because of COVID protocols. Nuggets assistant coach Ryan Saunders has also been impacted by the protocols, leaving Popeye Jones to command the defense last Sunday in Chicago.

Colorado is currently seeing another spike in COVID-19 cases; officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is encouraging folks to take precautions, including getting the latest vaccine against COVID-19 and its sub-variants.

The NBA’s rules for COVID reporting have loosened up much since the bubble of 2020. Now players must test once a week if they are unvaccinated. For vaccinated people, “testing will not be required except when ‘directed by their team physician or a league physician or government authority,'” the league says. The NBA has encouraged facemasks but not required them, and very few folks have been seen wearing them.

Denver will be down Jokic and Murray and likely Gordon, too, when they face the Mavs in Dallas on Friday night. The Mavs lost at home to Houston on Wednesday, but star Luka Doncic had the night off.

Murray is just coming back from a long recovery after tearing up his knee in the spring of 2021. Over 13 games, he’s averaging 16.5 points, 4.5 assists and 3.9 rebounds a night. His recovery was hampered by COVID rules. Meanwhile, Jokic is off to another strong season, following his back-to-back MVPs. Jokic caught COVID before the 2020 bubble.

Meanwhile, this recent run all started with Hyland, whose VCU team in college got disqualified due to COVID. Hyland had his first summer league ruined by COVID and has been in and out of protocols a few times in his short career.

Hyland or Bruce Brown will likely start at guard on Friday where the Nuggets are already short. Third-stringer Ish Smith has been battling injuries.

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