Count me among those that are not too worried about the Denver Nuggets. Are there serious problems? Yes. Can the Nuggets rebound from their current losing streak? Of course.
... the Nuggets are beat up and tired. That is the reality. It bites, but not as bad Ethan Hawke's acting in that awful 1994 film.
The Nuggets rotations are out of whack and some could argue the rotations are just totally wacky. Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov are out. Big deal? Yes, it's a very big deal ... about 14-feet worth.
So far we've seen two guys try to replace Gallo in the starting lineup. Julyan Stone had the first crack at replacing the Italian Stallion, but the kid from Virginia was only granted seven minutes of playing time.
Next up against the Warriors it was Rudy Fernandez's turn to play Gallo for a night. The Spaniard played 37 minutes, but had a rough night from the floor finishing 4-13 shooting for 9 points. Fernandez has been one of the lone Nuggets who looks like he gives a damn no matter what the score is and Karl rewarded that play with the start.
The Rookie from UTEP and 6'6'' and 185 pound Fernandez are not Gallo clones. Gallo goes 6'10'' and 225 pounds, he leads the team in scoring with 17 per game. Mr. Italy plays solid defense and can help out on the boards. He's the one getting the opponent into foul trouble with his menacing drives to the rim. Without, the Nuggets are missing their best all around player.
Next up, Timofey Mozgov. The man who has spawned his own Militia and is averaging 5.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game. Before his injured his ankle against the Lakers, Moz was averaging 8.2 points and 5.6 rebounds over his last fives games. His teammates were beginning to trust his offense and Moz was gaining confidence.
The one constant over this five game losing streak? Mozgov has missed all five games, said for seven minutes of the Lakers contest (where his injury came as he was extending the Nuggets lead off a layup, 49-46 with 10:00 to go in the 3rd quarter).
Karl has used Kosta Koufos, Chris Andersen, and Kenneth Faried to try to replace Moz and things just haven't been the same. Sure, Moz's numbers are not eye-popping, but his 1.2 blocks per game rank him around 27th in the league just behind the likes of Tyson Chandler (1.31) and Joakim Noah (1.22) and ahead of Brendan Haywood (1.12) and Emeka Okafor (1.00). Without the big man in there to help control the boards and protect the paint, the Nuggets defense has certainly struggled (can Moz defend the three-pointers too!?!).
Denver is on a horrific five game losing streak and the team has lost seven of their last eight, but they are still right in the thick of things out West. Oklahoma City is putting a little space between themselves and the rest of the conference, but not by much. The Nuggets are only 5.5 games out of first place in the West, 3 games out of second place, and the 4-9 seeds are all virtually tied at the moment with 11-12 losses each.
The season will have its ups-and-downs and it might be nice for the Nuggets to learn that they need to make some adjustments to learn how to keep winning. Denver has played in a lot of close games already, they have been blown out, and they have blown teams out. We're experiencing a lot of highs and lows and perhaps Nuggets Nation needs to take a page out of Andre Miller's book and just not get too high or low. It's not good for our collective blood pressure.
And don't forget ... Gallo and Mozgov will be coming back soon and after that the Nuggets may just add Wilson Chandler too. Help is on the way. Nobody said it would be easy ...
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