Chandler poised to return as Nuggets take on Lakers

Denver coach Brian Shaw eyes first regular-season win against former team
by Aaron Lopez

Wilson Chandler has a poker face that Phil Ivey or Phil Hellmuth would admire.

Whether he’s knocking down the game-winning shot or watching patiently from the sideline, his expression rarely changes.

It was no different Tuesday as the even-keeled Nuggets forward discussed his recovery from a strained left hamstring. Even when teammate Kenneth Faried walked up behind him and started singing off key, Chandler took it in stride. He simply shook his head and continued his interview.

“I felt pretty good,” he said. “I took hits better than I thought I would. The only thing that bothered me was conditioning.”

Barring any setbacks, Chandler is in line to make his season debut Wednesday when the Nuggets face the Los Angeles Lakers at Pepsi Center.

With forward Danilo Gallinari sidelined while recovering from a knee injury and center JaVale McGee out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his left leg, the timing for Wilson’s return couldn’t be better.

“He brings a lot to the table,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “I kind of got a little gleam in my eye in anticipation of him coming back. Just overall, it gives a big shot in our arm having him out there.”

At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, Chandler is a versatile big man who can run the floor, spread the defense as a 3-point threat and defend multiple positions on the perimeter or in the low post.

He was slowed early last season while recovering from hip surgery but finished the season strong by averaging 16 points, 4.9 rebounds and shooting .510 from the field in his final 25 games. The injury bug struck again when Chandler strained his hamstring on the second day of training camp.

Sitting out has been difficult, but Chandler and the Nuggets wanted to be sure that the injury would not linger throughout the season.

“Pretty calm,” Chandler said when asked how he has handled the hiatus. “I’ve seen a couple games where we lost by a few points, thinking maybe I could’ve helped.”

Shaw plans to ease Chandler back into the rotation; Jordan Hamilton likely will start at small forward for the fifth straight game.

“I’ll play it by ear as we go,” Shaw said. “I wouldn’t immediately throw (Chandler) into the starting lineup. Just get him in, get him a good 5-minute run, see how that goes and build from there.”


WHEN: 7 p.m. MT
WHERE: Pepsi Center, Denver.
TV; RADIO: Altitude; 104.3 FM, AM-950

DENVER (2-4)

F Jordan Hamilton
F Kenneth Faried
C J.J. Hickson
G Randy Foye
G Ty Lawson

F Nick Young
F Pau Gasol
C Chris Kaman
G Jodie Meeks
G Steve Blake

Lawson (sprained ankle) is probable; Wilson Chandler (hamstring strain) is a game-time decision; Danilo Gallinari (knee) and JaVale McGee (fractured left tibia) are out.
LOS ANGELES: Kobe Bryant (torn Achilles' tendon) and Steve Nash (back) are out.

The Nuggets have won nine of the past 15 regular season meetings against the Lakers and 10 of the past 14 regular-season games at Pepsi Center . . . The Nuggets won the season series (3-1) against the Lakers in 2012-13, marking only their fourth series win over Los Angeles since 1994-95 (also won 3-1 in 2006-07) . . . On Feb. 27, 2009, the Lakers shot just .298 (28-94) FG, their second-worst FG percentage since moving to Los Angeles in 1960. On Nov. 13, 2009, the Lakers managed just 23 second half points (a record for fewest points in a half) and just eight points in the third quarter (a Nuggets record for fewest points allowed in a quarter) . . . Los Angeles guard Kobe Bryant established the series record for points in a game (51) on Feb. 12, 2003. Allen Iverson matched the record while playing for Denver on Dec. 5, 2007.