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If Danilo Gallinari is right — and he usually is

on the mark with his injury assessments — it might be a while before the Nuggets see him on the court again.

As of Saturday morning, more tests were scheduled to determine the severity of the sprained ankle he suffered in the third quarter of Friday night's game at Dallas. Initial X-rays didn't show evidence of a fracture, but Gallinari wasn't taking that as the end of the story. Once the swelling in his right ankle decreases, he will be evaluated again. Then, at least an outline of how much playing time he will miss can be determined.

And the Nuggets will have to adjust, as they have been forced to do so many times this season because of injuries to players.

"It's just next man up, stepping up," said guard Will Barton. "We've got depth on this roster. So, guys will just have to make more plays."

Barton may get the call to move into the starting lineup. What coach Michael Malone does in place of Gallinari could change game to game depending on the matchup. And the Nuggets (23-36) will have to find ways to make up for the production they lose with Gallinari being unable to play. The 6-foot-10 forward is their leading scorer, averaging 19.5 points. He also is averaging 5.3 rebounds.


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In the game at Dallas, which they lost 122-116 in overtime, the Nuggets finished generally with a lineup of Barton, D.J. Augustin, Gary Harris, Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur. Malone could insert newly acquired forward JaKarr Sampson into the starting lineup if he wants to keep the integrity of the bench intact with Barton leading the second unit. Or, Barton could become a starter and Augustin could take on more of a scoring role with the second unit in, perhaps, a shared backcourt with Jameer Nelson.

When Gallinari suffered a sprained left ankle, which kept him out for six games from Dec. 22-30, the Nuggets started Kostas Papanikolaou in his place. Papanikolaou is gone now, but if the Nuggets go a similar route, Sampson would be the choice to join the starting lineup.

Of more urgency is how the Nuggets can maintain their competitiveness. They were 1-5 when Gallinari was out the first time. This ankle injury, he said after Denver lost Friday, is worse than the other ankle injury.

Gallinari is shooting 86.8 percent at the free-throw line for a team that ranks 16th in the 30-team NBA at 76.5 percent. That is useful for stopping the opponent's momentum and getting points even when the Nuggets' offense breaks down.

Danilo Gallinari (8) of the Denver Nuggets drives against Jae Crowder (99) of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter at TD Garden on January 27, 2016
Danilo Gallinari (8) of the Denver Nuggets drives against Jae Crowder (99) of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter at TD Garden on January 27, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer, Getty Images)

When the Mavericks went on a mini-run in overtime Friday, the Nuggets didn't respond on the other end without Gallinari. They ended the game with no points in the final 2:29.

"We missed Gallo a lot," said guard Emmanuel Mudiay. "Gallo's a big part of this team. But when he goes down it doesn't mean we stop playing. Other people have to step up."






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