NOTE­BOOK

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher Dempsey Christo­pher Dempsey: cdempsey@ den­ver­post. com or @ dempsey­post

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

Nuggets:

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.”

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