Nuggets’ Markus Howard avoids worst-case scenario with knee injury, source says

Nuggets guard Markus Howard left Wednesday’s game in the second half with a left knee injury but appears to have avoided a worst-case scenario, a league source told The Denver Post.

Howard didn’t travel with the team on its upcoming three-game road trip and instead stayed in Denver where he’ll undergo more testing. The Nuggets expect to have more clarity by Friday.

On the team’s official injury report, Howard was listed as out with a left knee sprain for Friday’s game at Atlanta.

Following Wednesday night’s 124-107 loss to Minnesota, Nuggets coach Michael Malone expressed optimism that Howard might’ve just hyperextended his knee as an opposing player landed on his leg while scrambling for a loose ball.

Malone reiterated that message after conferring with head trainer Dan Shimensky.

Regardless of his timeline, Howard had been a huge spark off the bench over Denver’s last three games. Howard had 21 points and six 3-pointers in Saturday’s win over the Spurs, and three more 3-pointers in Monday’s win over the Wizards.

On Wednesday, Howard had 14 points on four more 3s before exiting the game.

The Nuggets were already down Bones Hyland (violation of team rules), JaMychal Green (ankle), P.J. Dozier (ACL surgery), Michael Porter Jr. (back surgery) and Jamal Murray (ACL).

In addition, Nuggets wing Will Barton just returned from a non-COVID illness and wasn’t himself in the blowout loss.

Veteran guard Austin Rivers was listed as probable for Friday’s game after being out due to health and safety protocols.

Hyland’s penalty was only for one game, and Malone said there was a chance Green could return from his ankle injury sometime on the road trip, which also includes stops in Brooklyn and Oklahoma City.

“As much as your heart breaks for the injured players, as much as it makes it that much more difficult to be a team that can put some wins together, this is our situation, this is our current reality,” Malone said.

He said the only bright spot of Wednesday’s defeat was seeing Dozier in the Nuggets’ locker room prior to the game.

“It’s sad,” Nikola Jokic said. “It’s a lot of players going down.”

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