Nuggets center Mozgov sprains knee, ankle in loss to OKC
Normally, the sight of a 7-footer limping through the locker room means bad news.
In the case of Nuggets center Timofey Mozgov, it was an encouraging sight.
Mozgov had to be helped off the court Tuesday night after Oklahoma City center Nick Collison fell backward into his left leg in the first quarter of Denver’s loss to the Thunder. Subsequent tests Wednesday revealed a Grade 1 sprain of his MCL and a Grade 2 sprain of the deltoid ligaments in his ankle. The ankle injury is considered more severe, and Mozgov is expected to miss 10 days to two weeks.
“I was scared,” he said. “I can’t explain it.”
Coming off a five-point, six-rebound performance Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers, Mozgov was part of coach George Karl’s playing rotation again Tuesday as the Nuggets played without forward/center Chris Andersen, who missed his second game with a sprained right ankle.
Starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo sat out for the ninth time in 12 games with a strained left hamstring.
Because Afflalo has aggravated his injury twice in the past three weeks, the Nuggets are proceeding with caution. He will not play Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks but could return Friday in a rematch against Oklahoma City.
Karl describes Afflalo as his “security blanket” and said he would like to see him find a rhythm before the playoffs begin in less than two weeks.
“I think he’ll be 100 percent physically. I don’t know about mentally,” Karl said. “Anytime you sit out the last 10 or 15 games, the confidence of making shots and getting involved in the offense, I’m a little worried about that.”
As for Andersen, his return is uncertain. He averaged 10.7 points, six rebounds and 3.3 blocked shots in the three games before spraining his ankle Friday against Sacramento.
STAYING HUMBLE: Karl has been thrilled with his team’s play since the All-Star break, but he also realizes that a reality check might have been in order.
No one expected the Nuggets to thrive without Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups, but the pendulum of public opinion swung dramatically after Denver won 15 of 19 games since their trade to New York.
“There’s no question that you go from a vibe that you’re (angry) that no one’s giving you credit to now you’re probably worried you’re getting too much credit,” Karl said. “There’s no question there’s a little bit of a worry that the bandwagon’s getting too heavy.”
Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson understands his coach’s concern but said there’s no danger of Denver getting complacent or cocky as the playoffs approach.
“We don’t need a reminder to stay humble,” he said. “We’re all humble people. We all work hard. I don’t think we needed a loss to keep us humble.”
ETC: With its win Tuesday, the Thunder ended a seven-game losing streak at the Pepsi Center. Oklahoma City hadn’t won in Denver since March 28, 2007, when the franchise was still in Seattle … The Nuggets still lead the NBA in scoring but have been held under 100 points for a season-long three straight games.