Gallinari, who also shot a perfect 5 of 5 from the free throw line, reached double figures for the third consecutive game and fourth in his last six. He added two rebounds and two steals to his totals.
"Give him an opportunity as a starter, as least for now, to see what that looks like and see if that helps his confidence and his timing," coach Brian Shaw said of the decision to start Gallinari.
Gallinari has yet to look 100 percent since suffering a knee injury two Aprils ago, averaging 8.2 points and 19.3 minutes while shooting just 34.4 percent from the field. However, the team believes he's still improving "by the day."
"After 19 months of missing basketball there's certainly going to be a high level of expected rust," Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly said. "I think he's getting better by the day. I think with Gallo we know what we have, we have to be patient, we've got to continue to play through the ups and downs, and we'll see that guy again."
At his best, Gallinari was a solid Fantasy option putting up scoring averages in the mid-teens with strong shooting, free-throw shooting and passing numbers. He hasn't been that yet this season, but he is starting to turn things around. Over the last five games, Gallinari is averaging 12.8 points, 1.8 3-points and 3.0 free-throws made per game, in just 20.4 minutes. And he might see his playing time increase moving forward, as coach Brian Shaw's frustration with his team opens up playing time for anyone who can produce.
Gallinari is owned in just 35 percent of CBSSports.com leagues right now, and that sounds about right for where he is right now. However, with forward such a shallow position and the possibility of more minutes opening up as Shaw continues to tinker with the rotation, he might be worth taking a flier on if you are desperate for help.
Playing in his 31st game of the season,
Gallinari finished with 22 points on 5 of 11 shooting, including 2 of 7 from 3-point range. Gallinari made his mark at the free-throw line, converting 10 of 11. He also added four rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Gallinari has been bothered by a knee issue for much of the season and has struggled at times. He is averaging 8.0 points, which is only better than his rookie season when he averaged 6.1 points.
With the Nuggets down two power forwards Saturday, Gallinari entered the starting lineup as a stretch four. The Hornets were able to take advantage of the situation, receiving 35 points on 17 of 26 shooting from starters Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson. Gallinari added four rebounds and one assist in 25 minutes. The Nuggets will square off with the 76ers Tuesday.
|Last 7 Games|
|Complete Game Log|
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|Career Shooting Stats|
|More Postseason Stats|
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