For the past two weeks the Trail Blazers have been dominating at home, struggling on the road, and wondering when will Maurice Harkless be healthy enough to play.
Friday night at Moda Center, Portland continued its season-long winning streak at home to six games with a 128-112 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Blazers also got Harkless back on the court after he was initially listed as questionable.
All season long Harkless has been dealing with left knee soreness. The 25 year-old small forward had missed the previous five games with knee soreness, but this was a different kind of soreness than earlier in the season.
“We got a MRI and it was something different. It wasn’t really anything major. It was just a little inflammation in my knee… It feels a lot better now,” Harkless said.
Harkless had the MRI the day after the Blazers hosted the Knicks on January 7th. In the game, Harkless played just nine minutes.
The good news though…
“No structural damage,” Harkless said.
In 21 minutes of action in his return Friday, Harkless finished with 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting to go along with two rebounds and one block.
For Harkless, though, he was happier with just being back on the court and is looking to put this all behind him.
“It’s been frustrating, but you know, this time was a little different. It’s kind of one of those things that I had to let it heal… Like I said it was a little different than what I was dealing with before, so I’m pretty sure, I’m hopeful that this will be the last time that I have to deal with this, but it’s been pretty frustrating,” Harkless said.
Even with all the frustration, Harkless is still trying to stay positive.
“I know it’s a process. I’m just sticking with it,” Harkless said.
After the game, CJ McCollum felt that Harkless did not miss a beat.
“He played well, played with energy, used his size, athleticism really well. He shot the ball with confidence and he gave us something,” McCollum said.
Evan Turner was impressed with Harkless, since ET did not think Harkless had played in a game or even scrimmaged in the last couple of weeks.
“He was definitely efficient… I don’t really remember him going live or playing or anything – he comes out and scores 10 or 12 easy. He went off the dribble a couple of times. He looked healthy. He looked great,” Turner said.
Harkless credited his team for allowing him to get right back into the flow of the game.
“They did a great job of just making it easy for me to just fit back in,” Harkless said
It is the fifth times this season that Harkless has scored in double figures.. His season-high in points is 13, which he has reached two different times this season.
Harkless will take time to get some rest and stay off the court on Saturday “to take care of his body” and then back to work at Sunday’s practice.