Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless (4) dribbles in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brett Davis) (
INDIANAPOLIS — The Portland Trail Blazers’ four-game East Coast trip encountered a little turbulence over the weekend, when they not only lost a game at Miami but also one of their forwards.
Moe Harkless’ left knee pain resurfaced during the Blazers’ visit to Miami and he’s been ruled out of their Monday night matchup at the Indiana Pacers.
The Blazers’ forward, who has been dealing with lingering knee pain since undergoing arthroscopic surgery in March, seemed to be heading in the right direction. After sitting out the preseason, he played in the regular season opener — albeit under a 20-minute restriction — and his knee responded so well, trainers had recently OK’d coach Terry Stotts to increase Harkless’ playing time.
But after a Friday afternoon practice in Miami, the pain returned. And, one night later, during a loss to the Heat, Harkless had to sit out the second half.
"It was pretty sore in the first half," Harkless said Saturday night. "We kind of came up with a collective decision that it was probably best to sit the second half and just try to get ready for the next game."
But now it’s unclear when that next game will occur.
In hindsight, Harkless said, he probably pushed himself too much during the team’s Friday practice, when he not only participated in the whole workout but also some post-practice shooting drills.
"I probably should have sat a little bit at practice, thinking back on it," he said. "But I’ve been feeling good, so I wasn’t really worried about it. I guess that’s a little reminder that I need to stick to our plan and not overdo it."
Harkless wouldn’t elaborate on the plan. But he says it might be a good idea for him to skip more portions of practice moving forward.
The good news? Harkless said this is the first time he’s encountered knee pain since the start of the regular season. The bad news? It’s unclear when — or if — the pain will completely go away.
Because of his playing time restrictions, Harkless has not started a game this season. But he’s been an important piece of a resurgent Blazers’ bench that has been one of the best in the NBA in the early season. He’s averaging 3.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, while shooting 39 percent from the field, in 17.6 points per game.
"I wouldn’t really call it a step back," Harkless said. "I think I was just feeling a little sore … it’s just a reminder to slow down a little bit. I’ve still been getting stronger. It’s just one of those things that I’ve got to keep my eye on. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’ve got to keep an eye on it until I don’t feel any pain at all."
Joe Freeman | email@example.com | 503-294-5183 | @BlazerFreeman