DENVER (AP) — Unless the nose-diving Denver Nuggets can turn things around, they'll miss the playoff for the first time since 2003, when they got Carmelo Anthony after a 17-65 season.
Things have gotten so bad that the Nuggets had to resort to seldom-used reserve Jordan Hamilton running the point during a recent 39-point drubbing at Indiana.
Ty Lawson (rib), Nate Robinson (torn ACL) and even Randy Foye (banged knee) were all hurt, and Andre Miller hasn't been around the team since getting into a shouting match with first-year coach Brian Shaw on New Year's Day.
The Nuggets skidded into the All-Star break on a four-game losing streak, their 10-year playoff streak in serious jeopardy as they stand in 11th place in the Western Conference at 24-27, six games out of the eighth spot.
While Lawson is expected back soon, Danilo Gallinari won't be coming to the rescue.
The Italian sharpshooter who joined the Nuggets in the blockbuster trade that sent Anthony to New York a few years back, had a major setback in his recovery from a torn left ACL and recently required a second surgery that will sideline him until next season.
He blew out his left knee last April and his absence played a big role in another first-round playoff exit after a franchise-best 57-win regular season and the subsequent departure of long-time coach George Karl, part of an exodus that included Andre Iguodala and general manager Masai Ujiri, who was replaced by Tim Connelly.
Shaw's first season as an NBA head coach has been trying, as evidenced by his spat with Miller, who was initially suspended two games, a punishment that was revoked so he could continue to get paid but which failed to lead to a quick resolution.
Throw in the injuries and Shaw's had to juggle his depleted lineup.
"I've probably gotten 10 years of experience in this first half of the season," Shaw said. "... In a way, I like to kind of go through everything. There's a lot worse situations; we're just continuing to try to work through it. A lot of guys that wouldn't be getting opportunities are getting to play now because of the injuries. So it's allowing us to evaluate what we really have and discover who can get it done and who can't.