Denver Nuggets: With Injuries, Denver Sings the Memphis Blues and Loses 119-99

Jameer Nelson was thrown out of the game for a ticky-tack foul. His objections led to two technicals. End of game.

On a back-to-back without Denver’s own budding superstar, Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets were no match for the Grizzlies from the get-go. The Denver Nuggets were thin in the number of players available due to nursing injuries.

The Memphis Grizzles are a bona-fide powerhouse and are ready to growl and gravel with any of the leaders in the Western Conference.  They have All-Stars, muscle, discipline, tough, tough defense, and used it all in easily defeating the Nuggets, on the Nuggets home floor, in a hard loss.

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To rub salt on Denver’s wounds, Jameer Nelson got thrown out of the game early for asking why he was called for a touchy hand-check. It appeared the ref couldn’t handle the question and arranged for Jameer to get thrown out of the game with two technicals.

I hope the NBA regularly reviews the judgement and consistency of these refs and disciplines bad refereeing. This call appeared to be extremely poor judgement and ended the game before it started.

To top it off Danilo Gallinari injured his groin after putting in 29 minutes before limping off. So Denver’s best player was out along with Denver’s top scorer. Gallo will be getting an MRI today to determine the extent of the injury.

Emmanuel Mudiay was back in the line-up from a sore back. He played more than the minutes than were recommended.

Devastating Loss, Devastating Injuries

Wednesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzles was devastating to the Denver Nuggets.  Do not come down hard on the Nuggets players for losing. Yes, they provided very little defense but they were also seriously out played and more than that, the Nuggets are dealing with extensive injuries.

Of the ten man rotation, the following are dealing with current injuries:  Jokic, Barton, Mudiay, Harris, Arthur, Chandler and now Gallinari.  Previous injuries include Nurkic, and Nelson. Did I miss anyone?

Of ten rotation players, that’s nine out of ten. Murray has escaped the injury bug so far.

Virtually every player on the Nuggets team is or has been injured to the concern and detriment of the team. And much of the time they have to try to play through these injuries, with the possibility of exacerbating them.

Can Denver expect them to play with excellence and effort and win when they are so depleted? Does this happen with all other NBA teams? Is management doing things right to protect Denver’s athletes?

Now Gallo is hurt. This is a very touch coaching situation for Mike Malone. He needs to play and rest players at the same time.

 Basketball is Brutal

Let’s not kid ourselves. Basketball is a brutal physical game played by the best athletes in the world. Which sport is played by the strongest, biggest, quickest, team oriented athletes every other day during the season?

Yes, football players may have more strength and weight, but do not have the consistent grace and agility, and all-inclusive individual skill and talent. And the NBA players are right next to their fans on the floor.

Yes, gymnastics may provide more perfect specimens in balance and grace, but are not as powerful and big. And they don’t have to bring it competitively every other night for up to nine months.

So, along with other sports, we shouldn’t be surprised when these athletes get injured now and then.

Unfortunately, every team has injuries. There are teams as affected by injuries as the Nuggets. But the Denver Nuggets seem to be injured more than not, and sometimes to devastating degrees.

Here is a list of current injuries in the NBA. Every NBA team has injuries. But look at which team has the longest list. It appears to be the Denver Nuggets.

Jan 29, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson (10) reacts after suffering an apparent injury during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 29, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson (10) reacts after suffering an apparent injury during the first half against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Injury Preventive Methodology

Maybe the NBA needs to consider the aspects of these injuries. Some can end a player’s career or season.

There are many investigations on how to minimize injuries, including reducing the number of games. It is incredible how many playoff games have been determined by a player being injured. Remember when Gallinari could not play against Golden State? Here is an excellent article on the


The fans would love to see a game each day. But it can’t happen.

It would be interesting if the NBA would eliminate back-to-back games. It would be interesting to determine how many injuries occur on the second of back-to-back games.

These injuries have been going on forever. It is part of the game. Outside of the player’s own personal responsibility to stay healthy, there really is only one person between an injury and the player.

The coach. It’s not his fault if a player has an injury, but it is his management responsibility to minimize exposure.

Full compliance of the injury preventive program, including rest, nutrition, weight, stretching, protective clothing and other factors should be the first thing. Don’t overplay a player just to win. Know what is going on in the game if a player is getting drained. What a tough job.

In googling NBA injuries and how to prevent them, many philosophies are provided by experts. I’m sure the Nuggets have their own program.

Here is an interesting quote from the Atlanta Hawks who are immersed in injury prevention:

“In practice, we’re using the Catapult system,” Budenholzer said, “and trying to monitor what our guys are doing and what their workloads and capacities are with our new medical team and Keke Lyles. They’ll be able to take that data and analyze it and make sure we’re not overworking them, which is probably as important as anything. All the guys are wearing the Catapult, and we’ll be able to take that data and analyze it.”

With Denver’s injuries, Beasley, Hernangomez, Murray and the others will now have to play hard and accurately, as they will probably be given more time on the court.

Playing Before the All-Star Break

It was a great run for the Denver Nuggets with Nkcola and the team clicking, and the Nuggets moving on up to the 8th seed.  The next few games for Denver include Milwaukee and San Antonio on a back-to-back, then Dallas and Atlanta.

Who will play? How long can coach play them? What is more important, winning, or saving the player? Tough choices indeed.

One silver lining is that the Denver bench and even the third string played well and are reasonably healthy. Maybe they will get more burn over the next few weeks.

Nurkic, Murray, Hernangomez, Beasley, O’Bryant, get ready.

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