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- Danilo Gallinari will not play due to a bruised left thigh that hampered him in Denver’s two-game road trip last weekend. Gallinari, Denver’s leading scorer at 16.9 points a game, hurt his thigh against Washington on Friday and scored just six points in consecutive games against the Wizards and Charlotte. “I didn’t think he had the ability to create basketball plays for himself,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “He was a more of a role offensive player than one who initiates offense.” This is the third game he’s missed in the last six. He sat out two games with a sinus infection. Corey Brewer or Wilson Chandler could start in his place.
- The Lakers are trying to even the season series with the Nuggets and keep up the strong play they’ve had of late. Los Angeles has won 11 of 15 and three in a row as they battle for playoff positioning. To beat Denver at home Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said the team needs to bring the same energy it had in Sunday’s win over Dallas. “Getting back on defense, moving the ball better so our halfcourt offense is better,” he said.
- Center Dwight Howard is coming off another big game and is averaging 16.4 points and 11.9 rebounds this season. His presence on the court also helps the Lakers stay big with Pau Gasol out. “He’s always the key, especially since we’re small without Pau,” D’Antoni said. “Him being on the floor, whether he scores or doesn’t score, defensively he affects the other team.”
- The Nuggets have a chance to finish February with an 8-4 mark if they beat the Lakers and the Trail Blazers in Portland on Wednesday. “I’ll take it,” Karl said. “When I looked at the schedule I thought 7-6 would be good.”
– Michael Kelly