Nuggets hope to break 3-game slide in home opener

Associated Press Modified: November 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm •  Published: November 5, 2012

DENVER (AP) — Long after most of his Denver Nuggets teammates had cleared the practice floor, Danilo Gallinari remained out there running a shooting drill he devised back home in Italy.

Each time he missed a shot during the laborious back-and-forth exercise, Gallinari punished himself by starting over again. For nearly 90 minutes, this went on and on.

It's simply his method for breaking out of a shooting slump — and Denver urgently needs Gallinari to find his touch before the team falls too far behind.

For a squad with designs on challenging the top teams in the West, this wasn't exactly the start the Nuggets envisioned: An 0-3 road swing in which their offense looked sluggish at times.

They're hoping to rebound Tuesday night in the home opener against the Detroit Pistons, another team searching for their first win.

"We're not panicking at all," Andre Iguodala said.

The Nuggets have been showing steady improvement since opening the season with a clunker in Philadelphia. They played well during the second half in Orlando and then took the Miami Heat to the wire before falling 119-116 the next night.

Although dropping three straight doesn't exactly sit well with coach George Karl, he knew this early portion of the schedule was going to be arduous. After all, his team plays 22 of the first 32 away from Pepsi Center.

"I'm not going to address losing because the first 32 games of the season, we're probably not going to have this flamboyant record that's going to knock people out," Karl said. "But we have to figure out how to win games."

Part of that involves Gallinari rediscovering his shooting form. The 24-year-old forward missed the first game with a left ankle sprain and then went a combined 8 for 31 over the next two contests.

That's why he stayed so late after practice. Gallinari ran one drill after another, trying to make as many long-range jumpers as he could before the buzzer sounded. He would then take a quick breather and begin again.

Each time he missed, he scolded himself and ran back to start again.

"Got to work on my shot," Gallinari said, wiping the sweat from his forehead. "I feel good. Hopefully, I'll feel the same (Tuesday)."

He wasn't the only player putting in some extra time. In one corner of the practice facility, center Timofey Mozgov worked on his low-post moves, just in case he's cleared to play Tuesday after missing the opening three games because of a sprained left knee.