The Denver Nuggets escaped with a victory over the Dallas Mavericks Thursday night, giving them their 19th straight at the Pepsi Center. They had to do so without Danilo Gallinari as he went out in the second quarter with a nasty looking knee injury. The earliest reports are that he has torn his ACL.
An MRI will surely confirm these earliest fears and the Nuggets will have to prepare to play the rest of the regular season and postseason without their second-leading scorer. How well can the team finish the season without Gallinari?
With Ty Lawson still missing games due to a plantar fascia tear in his heel, the future is becoming bleaker by the day. Without these two guys there is no way in hell the Nuggets have a chance to make it to the NBA Western Conference finals, right?
Well, maybe not. Andre Miller has already shown he can come in and be an adequate replacement for Lawson. He’s definitely not as fast as Lawson but makes up for it with his smart play. He seems to lack the last shot capabilities that Lawson brings to the floor, so that is one area he could improve in slightly.
When Gallinari went out in the second quarter against the Mavericks somebody had to step up and score some points. For this game that somebody was Corey Brewer. Brewer netted a team-high 23 points and added two rebounds and two steals. Brewer has shown in this game and others that he can rise up and lead the team in scoring when others struggle.
“You never want to see anybody go down, especially a guy like Gallo who’s so important to us,” Brewer said. “It’s tough, but we have to fight through it.” The Nuggets continue to fight through it.
Wilson Chandler will most likely start in place of Gallinari and he has proved that he has the abilities and confidence to be an effective and dangerous starter. Despite Gallo most likely missing the rest of the season, the Nuggets can still be a team to be feared in the postseason. They pulled through and beat a Mavs team that is fighting for a playoff spot and this game definitely had a playoff-type atmosphere.
Pulling through as a team and winning the close games is a sure sign that Coach George Karl can win with who he has.
The only thing lacking the last couple games has been quality scoring from the center position. Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee have struggled to score and the team needs to find a way to get them involved. If these players are getting open looks at high-percentage shots then the Nuggets are playing their game and pushing the ball. This team needs to play fast and aggressive in order to win games not only at the Pepsi Center but on the tough playoff road games.
Hopefully the reports are wrong and Gallo ends up not being as severely hurt as indicated. However, we must continue to look forward. Lawson should be back soon which is a tremendous help to team confidence and with as deep as this team is it seems worrying should be a thing of the past.