It has been a difficult few weeks for NBA star Monte Morris of the Denver Nuggets. The 25-year-old from Michigan made headlines worldwide when announcing his intentions to play international basketball for Nigeria, a move that caught many sports fans off-guard.

Morris hopes to represent the nation at the Olympics as well as other major international events. However, the Point Guard suffered a setback not long after that statement, with injury keeping him on the sidelines. It’s now a race against time for the Denver medical staff to get the player back fit and firing again.

Fans of the Nuggets will be especially anxious to see Monte back in club colours, hoping he has what it takes to prove the NBA betting sites wrong. Nuggets have been written off by traders who make them the team outsiders for success in the Western Conference.

Depleted Denver dig deep

Despite the team’s injury problems and gambling insiders writing them off this season, Denver survived to win against the Timberwolves to breathe life into their campaign. Many respected pundits had the Timberwolves picked for victory, expecting Denver to struggle with some key players missing, but those fit enough to play showed their fighting spirit.

Nuggets beat Timberwolves 114-113 in midweek after racing into a strong lead in the opening quarter. Denver got to grips with their opponents early and had knocked the enthusiasm from them by half-time. They won the first quarter 35-26 before turning the screw to end the second 28-26. Timberwolves fired back in the third, winning the quarter by 37 points to 29 to set up a grandstand finish. But it wasn’t to be. The Nuggets dug deep in the final quarter, 22-14, helping drive them across the finish line.

That win helped add confidence to the camp of the playoff-bound Denver team, who seem to be coming together at the right time. Nikola Jokic was a fine example of Denver’s unrelenting will to win. He scored 31 points in that victory over the Timberwolves, with 16 coming in the opening quarter to set the stage for his teammates. Other notable performance in that match came from JaVale McGee, who notched up 12 points and 13 rebounds. Vlatko Cancar did his part with a career-high of 14 points from the bench.

Nuggets turning up the heat

That win moved Denver to fourth in the Western Conference, and they are now a game behind the Los Angeles Clippers, who are battling to hold on to the third place. Nuggets turn up the heat, making LA sweat and aiming to be there waiting to pounce if the Clippers unravel at a crucial stage of the season.

To give the team the best chance of improving a place, they will need their important players back in the line-up. There looks to be little chance of that happening for Will Barton or PJ Dozier to make it back before the season’s end. A right abductor strain has kept the latter of our five games now, and that number will rise.

“Denver Nuggets” by Troy Babbitt/USA Today is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Better news for Monte

There was better news for Morris despite him sitting out of that win over the Timberwolves in what was described by coach Mike Malone as injury management. He obviously wanted to keep Monte for more significant matches in the coming weeks and thought it best to ease him back into action.

The famous number 11 returned from a long injury lay-off recently to make his long-awaited return to action, but it would be foolish to rush him back at this point. After a dozen game absence due to a hamstring strain, Monte returned and looked like he had never been off the court. It was encouraging for all concerned, but the team must be careful not to get carried away.

The games come thick and fast for Denver, so they could do with a clean bill of health, but Malone and his coaching staff understand returning their points guard too soon could see him back to the medical staff for longer. Supporters have confidence Monte will have an impact in the playoffs.