Wilson Chandler hits 21 in his return to the court

Forward makes impact for Denver Nuggets in first game since Nov. 12
by Aaron Lopez

In his first game in 62 days, Wilson Chandler expected to play 10 minutes – 15 tops.

Denver Nuggets coach George Karl had the same timetable in mind.

Perhaps it was fitting that No. 21 ended up playing 21 minutes and making a big impact in Denver’s 116-105 win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.

Chandler, less than nine months removed from hip surgery, scored 14 points and added six rebounds and two steals. After cooling down with a postgame workout on the stationary bike, he assessed his comeback.

“It felt pretty good,” he said. “I was a little winded, but just something I have to fight through.”

Chandler, limited to 12 games due to injury since returning from playing in China last spring, entered the game with 5:22 left in the first quarter and promptly hit a 3-pointer 36 seconds later.

“I don’t know how to explain it, but I was happy to be on the court,” he said. “Making my first shot definitely boosted my confidence.”

Showing good mobility, Chandler went 6-for-14 from the field and played solid defense. Karl’s only concern was his shot selection.

“We’re going to have to talk about that,” Karl said with a hint of a smile. “I like guys that have the ability to get 14 shots and never have a play run for them. … He gives us an athleticism and defensive dimension.”

Chandler said he felt good after the game, even after getting more playing time than he anticipated.

“I didn’t plan on playing 21 minutes,” he said. “I was glad I was out there for that long and felt that good.”

Chandler expected to have a better indication of his progress when he returns to practice Monday, but his latest comeback was encouraging, to say the least.

“Wilson played great,” teammate Corey Brewer said. “He’s been working his butt off. He comes in the game and gives us some good minutes. He can spread the floor and make plays for us.”

Chandler hopes to build upon his performance when the Nuggets face Portland at home on Wednesday.

“I still have a ways to go,” he said. “I’m here every day, coming in early, getting treatment, exercising upstairs. I’ll continue to do the same things I’ve been doing the last few months and see where I go from there.”