Thursday night, the Denver Nuggets got exactly what they needed with a big 109-92 home win over the Northwest Division rival Portland Trailblazers.
However, with the Nuggets up by 10 points with seven minutes to play Chris “Birdman” Andersen got tangled up under the basket and rolled his left ankle, forcing him to the locker room for X-Rays which came back negative.
Andersen has already been dealing with right knee pain and is now day-to-day with his sprained left ankle. negative. He will have time to rest today before tomorrow’s game with the Los Angeles Clippers but Birdman is unsure if he will be ready to fly by then.
Here is a post from the Denver Nuggets official twitter page today:
Birdman unsure if he’ll play Saturday. Says L ankle is sore and he’ll be a game-time decision vs LA Clips.
While Andersen could arguably sit out the Clippers game without the Nuggets having to really worry about keeping pace with their opponent, it will be essential that he is back and ready to go next Wednesday, after the team’s three day break, for the first game of a pivotal back to back first in Oklahoma City against the Thunder and then Thursday back at home against the Los Angeles Lakers.
This is bad news for Andersen as he was recently returning to form on defense. Before leaving last night’s contest he had four blocks and through 15 games in March he was averaging 5.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
The Nuggets are already down one big man with Kenyon Martin still undergoing plasma rich platelet therapy on his ailing knee. The only two Nuggets’ big men from the regular rotation since Martin went down now 15 games ago were Nene and Andersen with reserve Johan Petro picking up minutes to help fill in.
This season, the Nuggets are just 11-10 without Martin and missing both him and Andersen could significantly hurt the Nuggets chances at climbing back into a top three seed before the playoffs.
After Thursday’s game with the Lakers, the Nuggets close out the final three games of the regular season with the playoff battling San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns with a game against the Memphis Grizzlies sandwiched in the middle.
Andersen will have to get healthy for these games but it will be even more important for him to not play if he is not ready to go. The last thing the Nuggets need is for Andersen to hurt something else even worse because he is having to compensate for his ankle.
If Andersen does miss some time, or at least the Clippers game, guys like Petro, Malik Allen and Joey Graham will have to considerably step up to make sure the Nuggets don’t lose any of the momentum Thursday night’s win may have given the squad.
Martin has said that he would like to play a few games before the end of the regular season to help warm himself up for the playoffs. However, he has said that his knee may not be as “eager,” to play as he is. For more on Martin, check out Benjamin Hochman’s continued coverage on the Denver Post.
With Thursday’s win, the Nuggets moved to just one game back of the Utah Jazz for the Northwest Division lead. The Jazz are currently the second seed in the Western Conference after the Dallas Mavericks lost to the Orlando Magic last night as well. Tonight, on ESPN, the Jazz face the Lakers in a key game for seeding. Nuggets fans will be forced to root for the Lakers tonight as a Lakers win would put the Nuggets a half game closer to the Jazz, setting up a situation where the Nuggets could claim the division lead back with a win against the Clippers on Saturday.