Nuggets try to move on in home tilt with Rockets

9:33 AM, Apr 6, 2013   |    comments
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(Sports Network) - The Denver Nuggets lost a vital piece to their puzzle, but must stay focused Saturday versus the Houston Rockets at the Pepsi Center.

Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari suffered a left knee injury in Thursday's 95-94 win over the Dallas Mavericks. Gallinari, who's second on the team with 16.2 ppg, went down in the second quarter and had an MRI Friday. The test revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament that will sideline him for the remainder of the season.

"We're extremely disappointed for Gallo. He was having a career year in scoring and rebounding and was a huge reason for our success," Nuggets executive vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said. "We will obviously support him and be there for him throughout his recovery."

Gallinari leads Denver with 135 3-pointers and 286 free throws. He joins starting point guard Ty Lawson (heel) on the injury list. Lawson leads Denver with 16.7 ppg and has missed three straight and six of seven games.

"You never want to see anybody go down, especially a guy like Gallo who's so important to us," Nuggets forward Corey Brewer said. "It's tough, but we have to fight through it."

Against the Mavericks, Andre Iguodala made the game-winning layup with 2.8 seconds remaining and had eight points. Brewer, who took over for Gallinari in the lineup, and Andre Miller scored 23 and 22 points, respectively, for the Nuggets, who won despite shooting 39.3 percent and making 6-of-17 3-pointers.

Kenneth Faried chipped in 12 points and pulled down 19 rebounds for the Nuggets, who have won three in a row since losing two straight. They are 18-2 in the last 20 games and have won 19 in a row at home. Denver will wrap up its three-game homestand Wednesday versus San Antonio and hasn't lost at home since Jan. 18 to Washington.

The Nuggets have the best home record in the NBA at 34-3 and are one of the league's highest-scoring teams with 105.6 ppg. They're third in the West standings -- two games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Houston is also a dangerous team offensively and is posting an NBA-best 106.1 ppg. The Rockets have won four straight and seven of their last nine games, including Friday's 116-98 victory at Portland.

James Harden had 33 points and Jeremy Lin chipped in 22 points with eight assists for the Rockets, who are seventh in the West standings -- one game behind Golden State and three clear of the Los Angeles Lakers. Greg Smith scored 19 points in the win.

"We felt like they could do a good job on one side of the floor, but if we moved it to the second side they would struggle to shift their whole defense and have everyone be in position," said Lin. "We had everyone just trying to attack, attack the close out."

Lin and Company will close out a three-game road trip Saturday. The Rockets are 16-22 as the guest and will start a three-game homestand Tuesday versus Phoenix, Memphis and Sacramento.

The Rockets have lost the first three meetings of the season with Denver and haven't been swept by the Nuggets in a season series since 1978 (0-3). The Nuggets have won six in a row against the Rockets.

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