Only goal for Gallo: Win
Veteran forward adjusting role to help Nuggets “get back to the playo≠s”
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