The surprisingly successful Denver Nuggets suffered a significant loss Friday after tests concluded Danilo Gallinari will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL.
Denver expects Gallinari to have a full, successful recovery, but season-ending surgery will force Gallinari to miss the playoffs for the Nuggets. Gallinari has been instrumental in the Nuggets run in the Western Conference, helping Denver earn the best home record in the NBA. He went down after driving for a layup in the first half of Denver’s 95-94 win over the Dallas Mavericks Thursday.
Corey Brewer replaced Gallinari and finished with a game-high 23 points for the Nuggets. Brewer is a good piece to fill in for Gallinari, but certainly does not possess the same perimeter gifts. The Nuggets are fortunate to have Brewer in this situation, even though they will have to considerably change their offensive mindset.
Gallinari’s loss for the now fourth-seeded Nuggets can’t be understated. Since being acquired in the gigantic Nuggets-New York Knicks trade, Gallinari has been one of the best small forwards out west. He was averaging 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game for Denver, making him the team’s second-leading scorer.
The Nuggets have clinched a playoff spot, but are still pursuing home-court advantage in the west. Denver hasn’t lost at home since Jan. 18 and will hope their home-court defense can give them a lift heading into the playoffs without Gallinari.
John Engel is a Pac-12 basketball writer for Rant Sports and also works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in Los Angeles. Follow John on Twitter: @engelsportsguy.