Newcomer Will Barton had 22 points and Danilo Gallinari added 20 but it wasn’t enough as the Denver Nuggets dropped their fourth straight game, this time to the Phoenix Suns 110-96 Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first – Denver’s rookie center Jusuf Nurkic left the game in the fourth quarter after painfully rolling his ankle – though apparently it could have been worse.

As of now, Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post is reporting that there’s no immediate timetable for Nurkic’s return. Here’s hoping he get’s well soon.

The Nuggets were already without Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried, and forward Darrell Arthur – who got the start – also left the game with right knee strain after only played three minutes. No word yet on his state moving forward. As for the game – it was actually a pretty entertaining affair through two-and-a-half quarters.

With so many big men out, head coach Brian Shaw gave Joffrey Lauvergne some run, and though he needs to learn that offensive goaltending is illegal in the NBA, he finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes – by far his best performance in his brief time in Denver. Combined with the production of Barton, the two newcomers to the Nuggets did a lot to keep Denver in the game during the early going.

Joining them was forward Danilo Gallinari, who continues to look more and more like his old self. Gallinari finished 5-11 from deep and added seven rebounds. He started the second half at the power forward spot, as Shaw (who also started rookie guard Gary Harris in this one) was forced to get creative with the lineup after Arthur’s injury.

After giving up 35 in the first and allowing Phoenix to shoot over 60 percent from the floor, the Nuggets actually outscored the Suns in the second, and had cut the lead all the way down to one with seven minutes to go in the third.

From there though, a litany of errors ensued that only this year’s Nuggets squad would be capable of. First, there was Jusuf Nurkic getting a technical foul for taunting (even if it was a highly entertaining one):


Then Gallinari turned the ball over. Then Harris got called for a clear path foul. Then another Gallinari turnover. Add in a slew of offensive rebounds for Phoenix (the Nuggets, going small, really missed Faried in this one, and got out-rebounded 65-40) and the Nuggets were once again down double-digits by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

In the fourth, the Nuggets were able to cut the lead to six with about six minutes remaining, but could get no closer from there. For the Suns, Eric Bledsoe finished with 19 points and Brandon Knight added 19.

The Nuggets will host the Utah Jazz Friday as part of their four-game home-stand. The Jazz, at 21-35, aren’t much better than the Nuggets record-wise, though the did just take down the San Antonio Spurs Monday. Still, it’s probably Denver’s best chance to not come up empty at the Pepsi Center in the month of February.

Tip off for Friday is set for 7 p.m.

Zach Marburger is a staff writer for Mile High Sports. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @BurchBurger.

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