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DALLAS – Let’s just call Tuesday night’s Nuggets game at Dallas – and Wednesday’s at Oklahoma City, for that matter – The Rookie Show. Perhaps more accurately: The Young Players Show. Nuggets youth will be served.
With the season down to just two games, banged-up veterans will step aside for younger players to get more court time. Four regulars are officially done for the final two games of the season: Kenneth Faried, with low back pain; Danilo Gallinari for rest; Will Barton for rest; and Jameer Nelson with a right calf strain. That leaves the door open for many of those who haven’t received a ton of time this season to get minutes.
Right at the top of that list is rookie Malik Beasley, who has bounced between Sioux Falls in the D-League and the Nuggets all season long. Juancho Hernangomez, who has spent the majority of his season with the big club, is slated to get more minutes as well.
“The great thing is we’ve seen Juancho play a lot this year, but now he can play extended minutes,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Malik has been the only rookie that hasn’t had a chance to play extended meaningful minutes. So with two games to go, getting him out there and letting him play will be great for him.”
On Tuesday night, Hernangomez and Beasley play in what will be one of the more bizarre scenes that they’ll experience in their careers. That’s because the Mavericks are honoring Tony Romo, the recently retired Dallas Cowboys quarterback, who will be in uniform as a “Maverick for a Day,” tonight at the American Airlines Center. He’ll go through the layup line and is expected to be announced with the Mavericks starters.
A huge media gathering showed up to the arena for the Mavericks’ morning shootaround, as the former football star discussed what it all meant to him. Romo was a regular at Mavericks home games.
So the Nuggets will operate through all of that.
Asked how the team is approaching the final two games, veteran forward Wilson Chandler didn’t hesitate.
“I think you approach them with the mindset to get better,” Chandler said. “Especially with the young guys that we have. We’ve got a lot of young guys that get minutes, but guys like Malik, guys like Juancho, to get them a little more experience, more minutes. I think we approach it as a team like you want to get better and focus for next year.”
Malone admitted the sting of Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma City still lingered, but turning the page on that was key.
“Now, with two games to go being out of it is really disheartening,” Malone said. “But we have to find a way to not feel sorry for ourselves, pick ourselves up and play these two games out with whoever we decide to play.”