Only goal for Gallo: Win

Vet­eran for­ward ad­just­ing role to help Nuggets “get back to the playo≠s”

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher Dempsey Christo­pher Dempsey: cdempsey@den­ver­ or @chrisadempsey

A year later, the play calls aren’t as plen­ti­ful. Nuggets for­ward Danilo Gal­li­nari, one sea­son af­ter he took more shots and av­er­aged more points than in any other sea­son of his NBA ca­reer, is set­tling back into a fa­mil­iar place as a cog. As a key cog, but a cog nonethe­less, in the Nuggets’ freeflow­ing of­fen­sive sys­tem.

“I think he’s un­der­stand­ing that he’s not go­ing to get 20 play calls for him ev­ery night. No­body is,” said Nuggets coach Michael Malone. “The way we try to play is give our guys free­dom, move­ment and give the ball to dif­fer­ent guys and let them make plays. Ev­ery­body’s in­volved and ev­ery­body’s touch­ing it, and that’s a fun way to play.

“Gallo will still be a fo­cal point of the of­fense and he’ll be a guy that late game we can look to go to be­cause he’s go­ing to draw fouls, get to the foul line and most im­por­tantly make his free throws.”

Dom­i­na­tion of play calls was never promised to Gal­li­nari this sea­son. A year ago, the Nuggets had more ques­tions as to who could pro­duce points on a nightly ba­sis. Now those ques­tions are be­ing an­swered, and the an­swers say al­most any­one on the team is ca­pa­ble of hav­ing a big game. Also, more play­ers on what has be­come a deep roster have shown the abil­ity to be a con­sis­tent, re­li­able scorer.

Gal­li­nari was never a high-vol­ume shooter, but his shots have dropped from an av­er­age of 13.2 per game last sea­son to 11.2. His scor­ing has gone from last sea­son’s ca­reer­high av­er­age of 19.5 points per game to 16.9. Those de­clines don’t bother him. “I’m just try­ing to play the game, try­ing to help this team get back to the play­offs. That’s my only goal,” Gal­li­nari said. “If I need to shoot more or I’m not shoot­ing enough, I don’t know. I’m just fo­cus­ing on play­ing the game the right way.” It ap­pears that took some get­ting used to. In the first 20 games this sea­son, Gal­li­nari av­er­aged 16.2 points and made 39.3 per­cent of his shots (35.4 per­cent on 3-point at­tempts). He had three 20-point games in that span. In his past nine games, he has av­er­aged 18.4 points and made 49.5 per­cent of his shots (44.4 per­cent on 3-point at­tempts).

“I haven’t made any ad­just­ments,” Gal­li­nari said. “I’m just try­ing, hon­estly, to play the game as the game comes to me. Just read the sit­u­a­tion.” Malone likes what he sees. “He’s a smart player,” Malone said of Gal­li­nari. “He’s very com­pet­i­tive and he wants to win. And he’s will­ing to do what­ever it takes. If him scor­ing 30 points a night is what it takes, he’d take on that re­spon­si­bil­ity. If scor­ing 16 points a night is what it takes, he’s putting the team first.”

PHILADEL­PHIA AT DEN­VER Spot­light on Jahlil Okafor:

7 p.m. Fri­day, ALT; 950 AM Lost in the wide swath of Joel Em­biid’s shadow this sea­son has been some pretty steady play from an­other high draft pick, Jahlil Okafor. He hasn’t played much be­cause of Em­biid’s pres­ence, but con­sider this: His 10.9 points and 4.9 re­bounds ex­trap­o­lated over 36 min­utes per game be­come av­er­ages of 17.7 points and 7.2 re­bounds. He’s shoot­ing 52.2 per­cent from the field. Re­ports con­tinue to swirl about whether he will be traded, but for now he has been a good re­serve cen­ter.

Nuggets for­ward Danilo Gal­li­nari tries to score against the Tim­ber­wolves at the Pepsi Cen­ter on Wed­nes­day. AAron On­tiveroz, The Den­ver Post

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