The NBA season is a tough test for teams mentally, emotionally and of course, physically.
For the Denver Nuggets, the injury bug has bitten hard and numerous times, as of late.
Monday night it was Danilo Gallinari, Denver's leading scorer and blossoming star in the making, who rolled his ankle during the 99-90 loss to Houston while attempting a shot.
The long and lanky Gallinari limped off the court and into the locker room, where X-rays revealed a fractured bone chip in his ankle. CT scans will be taken Tuesday to examine whether or not further damage was done to the ankle, but the news is at the least bad, and at the worst, catastrophic for Nuggets fans.
Gallo has turned into the Nuggets' go-to-guy when they must have a bucket and is developing into the man to take the last-second shots at the end of games.
His loss didn't necessarily lead to Denver losing to the Rockets, but without Nene, Timofey Mozgov, Arron Afflalo and Corey Brewer, the Nuggets' ship was sunk when Gallo went down.
Mozgov rolled his left ankle in the loss to the Lakers, and he could miss up to one to two weeks.
Afflalo's gone through many injuries this year, the latest an ankle that has him listed as day-to-day.
Nene's dealing with a bum heel while Brewer missed Monday's game due to personal reasons.
And Lawson missed two games 10 days ago due to an ankle roll of his own, leaving even the casual observer to ask, are the Nuggets cursed?
Denver was cruising through the NBA, running their record to a second-best in the West 14-5 mark.
But after winning six straight games, the Nuggets have dropped the last three straight and have gone 1-5 over their last six, plummeting in the standings to fourth (15-10) and at risk of falling out of the running.
Yes, it's still early in the season, but it turns out Denver's demonstrative depth will be tested, right now.
The Nuggets haven't been playing their unselfish, uptempo, fun brand of basketball as of late, and it shows in the stats.
Denver's No. 1 in scoring (104 PPG), fast break points (21.2), points in the paint (51.6), assists (21.4) and third in steals (9.1) and they've only done well in one of those categories—paint points—in their last three losses.
They've averaged 92 points, 17 fast break points, 47.2 points in the paint, 16.7 APG and 6.7 SPG over the last three games, as every one of their noteworthy numbers are significantly down compared to season averages that made them one of the most dangerous teams in the NBA.
The Nuggets must get back to ball and player movement, which leads to open looks at the rim and high-percentage shots. Running the floor is also in their favor as the young team in the Mile High City can run any team out of any gym they find themselves playing in.
And as for right now, the Nuggs can stop the bleeding by sustaining through this rash of injuries that threatens to sink the team's hopes for competing deep into the playoffs this season.
That being said, if Gallinari has to miss a majority of the remainder of the season, it will definitely hurt Denver, as he's their most potent scorer, and his reckless abandon to the rim often draws fouls in his favor.
But this team was never billed as one revolving around one star, and if any team can keep their collective heads above water, it's these Nuggets.
Rich Kurtzman is a freelance journalist actively seeking a career in journalism. Along with being your Denver Nuggets Featured Columnist, Rich is the Denver Broncos and CSU Rams Examiner and Kurtzman also writes for Blake Street Bulletin, Stadium Journey and Mile High Hoops.
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