The Denver Nuggets won their 20th straight home game on Saturday night by blowing out the Houston Rockets. They did it without Danilo Gallinari, who missed his first game since tearing his ACL two nights earlier. It’s only one game but the question has to be asked, are the Nuggets a better team without Gallinari?
The loss of Gallinari does hurt the depth of the Nuggets and that has been their greatest strength in 2012-13. However, the argument can be made that the team is more dynamic on offense without Gallinari.
Wilson Chandler, who is now starting for the injured forward, brings the same assets to the offensive side of the floor and is more consistent. As good as Gallinari can be at times, he can also be completely invisible at other times. Chandler’s effort is consistent and if his shot is not falling, he has the ability to get to the basket. Chandler is also better in the open floor and a better finisher on the fast break.
The other thing fans saw on Saturday night was an Andre Iguodala that they have not seen since the trade that brought him to the Nuggets. Head coach George Karl has been begging Iguodala to be more selfish for some time now, and he finally obliged versus the Rockets.
Iguodala played his best game in a Nuggets uniform because he was aggressive and selfish. He finished the night with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists. Those are star type numbers and that is the player the Nuggets thought they were getting when they traded for him. In addition to the offense, Iguodala provided the great defense that has become his trademark.
Having said all of that, getting Ty Lawson back before the playoffs is a must because without him, the Nuggets have no shot to go deep in the playoffs. Beating the Rockets at home in the regular season without Lawson is one thing, winning a playoff series versus the San Antonio Spurs without him is another.
It’s only been one game but the early returns suggest that the Nuggets can survive without Gallinari. In some ways, they might be better.
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