Danilo Gallinari to miss month

DENVER -- It was hard for Danilo Gallinari to actually have pep in his step Tuesday.

He's still adjusting to crutches for the first time in his life and the walking boot will remain on his left foot for several more days.

Yet, there was clearly an air of relief about the Denver Nuggets' forward and leading scorer after a round of medical tests Tuesday revealed the chip fracture that was discovered Monday night after he twisted his ankle turned out to be an old injury.

So, he'll receive treatment for a significant ankle sprain and is expected to miss about a month.

Asked if it was good news, Gallinari said, "Yeah, definitely. We'll see the recovery."

Doctors who reviewed the CT scan and MRI said the chip fracture in his left foot wasn't caused by his stumble Monday night when he stepped on Rockets forward Chandler Parsons' foot, twisting his ankle. They said the fracture might actually have occurred before he joined the NBA in 2008.

"I don't remember when it happened and if I did something in the past, but that's what they said. But that's better," Gallinari said. "I was hoping for that because the recovery won't be as long."

His teammates were relieved that he should be back in March instead of April.

"We need to get him back soon because he's a big part of our team -- he's 6-10, drives to the basket and creates," point guard Ty Lawson said. "So, you know, hopefully he gets well soon."

Gallinari, who is averaging 17 points a game and recently signed a four-year, $42 million contract, expects to be back in four weeks.

"If it can be faster, it's better, but with these kind of things, you want to take your time and have it heal in the right way," he said. "I don't want to rush it. I want to take care of myself and make sure it heals in the right way, so I don't have other injuries when I come back."

Gallinari went down early in the third quarter of Denver's 99-90 loss to Houston on Monday night, joining sidelined starters Nene (heel), Timofey Mozgov (ankle) and Arron Afflalo (ankle, toe), plus key backup Corey Brewer, who has taken a leave following the death of his father.

Nene is expected to return Wednesday night and Afflalo said he'll definitely be back in the lineup against Dallas as the Nuggets try to snap their three-game skid with a makeshift lineup.

They're the only NBA team since 2006-07 that hasn't lost four in a row.

The Nuggets, losers of five of six, will be tested this month: they face just two sub-.500 teams the rest of February.

"It's going to be tough," Gallinari said. "Hopefully we can make a good stretch run because February was already a tough month and now it's going to be tougher."

Coach George Karl said Brewer will get the bulk of Gallinari's minutes when he returns from his father's funeral.

"I think until we get Corey back, it will be kind of by my feel of the game," Karl said. "Once I get Corey back, I think you're going to see him get at least a 20-minute hunk of that. I think he's earned that opportunity. But the other 10, 15 minutes -- and 35 minutes tomorrow -- I don't know. I mean, they all should be ready to play."

Rudy Fernandez showed up Tuesday with a sore lower back and is probable for the Mavericks game.

With so many guys hurt and Brewer absent, Karl had his players shoot baskets Tuesday but decided against having them go 5-on-5.

"The physical practice right now, it'd have been a mutiny if I'd have asked them to practice and go up and down the court," Karl said.

Nagging injuries are becoming a big part of this truncated season with more games packed into fewer days and less recovery time following the NBA lockout.

"Yeah, it's part of this season, the recovery time because of the schedule becomes shortened. But no team is exempt from it. We all play under the same schedule guidelines, so we've just got to deal with it," said Afflalo, who missed Monday night's game with a sprained left ankle and a sprained right big toe.

Last month, when the Nuggets were nipping at the heels of the Oklahoma City Thunder atop the Western Conference, much was made of the way Denver's front office had put together the perfect roster for this unusual season: young and deep.

Now, that blueprint is going to get tested.

"Definitely from injuries and just energy-wise, we're getting to use our young guys and our depth," Lawson said. "Most teams, four of their starters go down, they probably wouldn't be in the game like we were last night. So, to have depth and have good players just come off the bench is big for us."

While everyone else's injuries are of the nagging type, Gallinari's was more of a punch to the gut, even with the good news that he'll miss a month and not six or eight weeks.

"Of course," Afflalo said. "We need everyone and especially Gallo, our leading scorer."