When the Nuggets signed Danilo Gallinari to a lucrative contract extension, they had this in mind.
When Gallinari re- signed with the Nuggets, for three years and $ 45 million, he had this in mind. Playing out of his mind. Exaggeration? Maybe. But Gallinari, a veteran forward, is playing perhaps his best basketball. Things are coming together for him in a way they haven’t since late in the 2012- 13 season before a torn ACL derailed everything.
Gallinari has been attacking the rim relentlessly and with purpose this month, rebounding at a higher level and making the plays required of a lead player.
He is averaging 26.2 points and 6.2 rebounds in January games, while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 37 percent from the 3- point line. He is getting to the free- throwline an astonishing 12.3 times per game, making 82 percent of those attempts. Also, he has strung together a career- high six games of 20 points or more.
And when Gallinari scores at least 20 points, it’s a good barometer to tell whether the Nuggets will win. They are 11- 5 when that happens.
“That’swhat the best players in this league do,” Gallinari said when asked about scoring 20 or more points. “They bring it every night, so I’ve got to do it every night.”
Themost recent example came Wednesday night in Denver’s 112110 victory over defending NBA champion Golden State at the PepsiCenter. Gallinari contributed 28 points and five rebounds.
“He comes out and gets 28, five boards, 19 free- throw attempts, making 17 — and the loose ball, some of the things that don’t
Jusuf Nurkic could play in Friday’s game, coach Michael Malone said. Nurkic didn’t practice Thursday, instead receiving treatment for his sprained ankle. “I think it was more of a scare than anything,” Malone said. “I’m hoping, that being said, that he’ll be able to participate in ( Friday’s) shootaround ... and play in the game.” Heat: Miami will play without starting guard Goran Dragic ( strained calf). Chris Andersen ( sore knee) and JoshMcRoberts ( bruised knee) also won’t play Friday. ... This is the fifth game on a six- game road trip for the Heat. Christopher Dempsey, The Denver Post show up on the stat sheet,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. “And he’s been doing that every game now. He is to me, ifwe keep on winning and he keeps on playing at that level, he’s a guy that you should talk about making an all- star team. If he can continue to play at such a high level. He puts the time in, and the biggest thing is he’ll get there if we continue to win.”
Gallinari is not excitable in postgame news conferences. Even after the Nuggets’ best win of the season, against Golden State, he was ready to look ahead to the next opponent: Miami.
Asked about himself, he insists that his success matters only as it relates to the team’s success.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Gallinari said. “My body feels good and I’m pretty confident. So I think that I’m playing at a pretty good level. But hopefully I’m playing good and the team is winning. If I’m playing like this but the team doesn’t win, it doesn’t work for anybody.”