Mar 2, 2014 11:21 PM by Greg Smith
With three key Denver players already ruled out for the season, there is no indication that Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson will be the fourth.
Lawson, recovering from a fractured rib, has been working hard in the weight room and gone through non-contact drills in recent practices. There is no definitive timetable for his return, but Nuggets coach Brian Shaw believes Lawson's presence can have an impact even if Denver is not in playoff contention.
"I think you still want him to get back and play," Shaw said Friday. "The guys kind of light up when he's out there. Not only on the court. When we're on the plane or on the bus or in the locker room, they kind of congregate around him. It's the same way on the court. They get a little more confidence when they get on the floor with him. That's something we're sorely missing right now."
Lawson, who is averaging career-highs with 18 points and 8.8 assists, has missed the past eight games. Denver is 1-7 during that stretch, falling eight games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
His absence has left newly acquired Aaron Brooks as the team's lone traditional point guard. Shooting guards Randy Foye and Evan Fournier have also run the offense at times.
"A lot of guys are being asked right now in his absence - and in the absence of the other guys that are out - to do things that maybe we shouldn't be asking them to do," Shaw said. "But we're in a position where we really don't have a choice. In that aspect, it's unfair to totally judge what's going on with some of the players. The only thing we can really judge is the effort part of it."
The Nuggets spent time Friday morning reviewing their effort in Thursday night's loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Denver was outscored 29-8 in the first quarter and never recovered.
After their film session, the team headed to Portland for Saturday's game against the Trail Blazers.