Gallinari not concerned with individual stats, just team results

Nuggets forward stays positive as Denver closes in on playoffs

Less than 24 hours after Danilo Gallinari missed all seven of his shot attempts, Nuggets coach George Karl went to his talented young forward and encouraged him to stay positive.

Not a problem.

“You have to be positive. We live a sweet life,” Gallinari said. “How can you be negative living the basketball NBA life? It’s impossible. You have to be positive all the time.”

That outlook has served the 23-year-old Italian well this season.

Gallinari missed 13 games with a severely sprained ankle and an additional 10 because of a fractured left thumb. The thumb is still healing, and his right wrist is sore from a hard fall earlier this week, but Gallinari is fighting through the pain in an effort to help the Nuggets secure a playoff berth.

“We’ve been winning important games and I play winning basketball,” he said. “The stats don’t matter to me a lot as long as we win. Of course, as coach said, I have to be a little more aggressive and take a little more responsibility on the offense.”

In the six games while playing with a wrap on his injured thumb, Gallinari has scored at least 10 points four times and averaged 10.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists, while shooting 20-for-60 from the field.

The missed shots don’t bother Karl, but he would like to see Gallinari build some momentum over the final four games of the regular season.

“I don’t think there’s any question we were hoping for better flow and better rhythm with him,” Karl said. “I told him, ‘Gallo, I’ve seen all my good players go through exactly what you’re going through. You’re going to be fine. You’re going to bounce back to being in a good place. You just have to have confidence, take these next two days and think positive thoughts.’ ”

Karl was taking his own advice Thursday.

After a tough 104-98 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the coach had a bounce to his step and praised his players for being demanding of themselves during a taut workout on the Pepsi Center practice court.

“You want to make it easy, but there’s always going to be some stage that’s not going to be easy,” Karl said. “Sometimes having difficult times it makes you better when it gets more difficult. As I told the team, we got better last night. We didn’t win, but we didn’t ake step backwards.”

With four games remaining, the Nuggets (34-28) are seventh in the Western Conference, a half-game behind sixth-place Dallas and 1½ games ahead of eighth-place Utah.

Denver can clinch a playoff berth as early as Saturday when they play on the road against ninth-place Phoenix.

“If we get out there and take care of business, we’ll be cemented into the playoffs,” guard Arron Afflalo said, “and anything can happen from there.”

Karl said he plans to meet with his coaching staff on Friday to discuss scouting assignments for potential playoff opponents.

With the Western Conference standings in constant flux, the Nuggets realistically could play any one of four teams: the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers or the Clippers.

“I’ve never seen that many what-ifs,” Karl said. “Nobody knows who we’re going to play right now – nobody. And you’re going to get one or two days to figure it out ... Just wild and crazy. It’s rewarding but it’s also very intently stressful.”

Aaron Lopez
Aaron J. Lopez is the primary writer for, providing behind-the-scenes content, including feature stories and video for the site. Before joining the Nuggets in 2009, he spent 15 years covering Colorado sports for the Rocky Mountain News and the Associated Press, making him one of the longest-tenured sports writers in Denver. Aaron's full bio...