In a hard-fought battle to the wire the Nuggets proved they’re a team that thrives off heart and passion, rather than one that folds under emotional turmoil. Iguodala had a huge drive capped by a game-winning layup at the rim to put the Nuggets ahead by one point with only a few seconds remaining, while Corey Brewer dazzled with his energy and refusal to lose throughout the contest; however, the story of the game without question is Danilo Gallinari and his ostensibly torn ACL.
|Danilo Gallinari, SF 16 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-6 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -3
Again, story of the game and not in a good way. More info below, but know this: Gallo’s gonna be sidelined for a really long time no matter what the official diagnosis. In terms of his actual production prior to the injury, Gallo looked great. He was extremely aggressive, in route to having another 20-point performance and was dishing the ball like a point guard.
|Kenneth Faried, SF 38 MIN | 4-11 FG | 4-8 FT | 19 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 4 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +7
Some pundits say Faried brings it ever night. That’s not entirely true though. He has a lot of off nights. Tonight was a great example of what happens when he TRULY brings it. He was everywhere. Nineteen rebounds says it all. He missed a few crucial free throws at the end of the game, but because the Nuggets won, they can be forgiven. With the Nuggets stricken by injuries, he needs to play like this a lot more often over the next several weeks.
|Kosta Koufos, C 21 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -12
Koufos had a really quiet night. He had a few good rebounds and buckets close to the rim, but was otherwise pretty nonexistent.
|Andre Miller, PG 33 MIN | 9-15 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | -5
Miller was impressive. His offense helped the Nuggets through tough stretches and he was pretty clutch when it mattered most. He also made a commitment to defense, even though he still took his fair share of possessions off. Bottom line: As long as he’s at least putting in effort to stifle his opponent, that’s good enough for us.
|Andre Iguodala, SG 41 MIN | 3-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +1
Iguodala didn’t even score his first points until late in the game. He couldn’t throw a pea in the ocean, as they say, but he helped out in other ways. His defense on Dirk was admirable and impressive considering he’s about six inches shorts than him.
|Anthony Randolph, PF 2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +6
Randolph had a nice put-back dunk prior to the conclusion of the first half. And that was about it.
|Corey Brewer, SF 35 MIN | 7-17 FG | 7-8 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 23 PTS | +5
At mid-season I said Corey Brewer was the MVP of the Nuggets up to that point. These are the types of games that prove why I said that. Really, it’s hard to describe just how big of an impact he had — on both ends of the floor. His energy was insane, his shots weren’t always the best but he hit them when they mattered most. He ended up with an array of big plays that kept the Nuggets in the game including a late steal and rebound off a missed free throw that allowed the Nuggets to call a timeout and get the eventual game-winning bucket. He also got the game-winning blocked shot. Again, I cannot stress just how impressive he was on this night. He was without question the heart of the team, as is often the case.
|JaVale McGee, C 15 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -3
McGee seems to be slowly losing his confidence. His minutes continue to decline and naturally, so does his production. Against the Mavs he was out of position for most of the game and generally behind the flow of action. He would benefit greatly from just making a conscious effort to rebound and play more fundamental defense.
|Evan Fournier, SG 19 MIN | 1-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +5
Fournier’s hot streak ends abruptly. He played good defense throughout the game, especially in the passing lanes, but because the Mavs were clogging the lane he couldn’t get his rhythm driving to the hoop. His role as a Nugget will now likely expand to the biggest its ever been with Gallo out.
|Wilson Chandler, SG 21 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +4
Chandler’s stat line isn’t the most impressive but he had some big plays throughout the game, including a few crucial threes, rebounds and defensive stops. Chandler should now step in as the Nuggets starting small forward with Gallo out. This is his chance to prove himself, not only to the Nuggets, but to the entire league as well.
I had a debate with Dever Post writer Mark Kiszla on Twitter about what it meant if the Nuggets won this game. I said it was excusable if they lost due to the shock of losing Gallo to what appears to be a gruesome injury; he said this was essentially a must-win where Karl needed to prove himself as a coach. Well, he was right. And Karl did prove, yet again this season, that he knows what it takes to get the Nuggets a huge “W.” I don’t know what he said at halftime, but it worked. This was a grind-it-out game and the Nuggets never backed down. In fact, this might have been the gutsiest win of the season given the circumstance.
Grades aside, the big news on the night is unquestionably Gallinari’s knee injury. It doesn’t look good folks. Both Benjamin Hochman and Adrian Wojnarowski are reporting that all signs point towards a torn ACL. Did I say this doesn’t look good?
We shouldn’t jump to conclusions without a definitive diagnosis; however, no matter what the MRI reveals chances are Gallo will be out for the remainder of the season.
The good news (if there is any): Wilson Chandler and Corey Brewer are more than capable of filling the void in production from Gallo’s absence. And given how well Fournier has been playing lately, there really isn’t too much to worry about in terms of scoring. Of course, this isn’t even to mention Jordan Hamilton, who’s proven to be more than capable of filling it up at the NBA level, nor Quincy Miller, who would likely impress if he had to produce in a pinch.
The bad news: Gallinari is out, likely for a very long time. What we shouldn’t be worried about now is how quickly he’ll return. If it is an ACL, he’s gonna be sidelined for about a year. What we should be worried about at this moment — until further information comes to light — is Gallinari’s health and state of mind. This type of injury is scary. There’s just as much mental anguish as there is physical pain. As a player, Gallo is without question one of the top three on the Nuggets roster. Some believe he’s the very best. Mentally, his teammates are going to go through a big change in their state of mind over the next several days, just as Gallo is. They have to get used to the idea that one of their best players is no longer with the team. It’s gonna take some adjusting, but luckily there’s still some time remaining between now and the playoffs for the team to gel sans Gallo.
We’ll keep you updated on what exactly transpires with this news as more information comes to light. But in the meantime, let’s say a collective prayer for The Big Game Hunter and wish a speedy and robust recovery in the process.