There's no shortage of stuff to love about the Denver Nuggets — those yellow alternate kits; the incredible depth they've used to overwhelm opponents en route to 18 wins in their last 21 games, including 15 straight between Feb. 19 and March 25; their coach's pedal-to-the-metal philosophy and the way their athletic bigs fuel the high-octane attack; how their ageless reserve point guard still takes over games and throws the best lob passes in the business; pretty much everything about JaVale McGee ... take your pick. It's all great.
After Denver's 113-96 road win over the Utah Jazz, though — a win that kept the Nuggets ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies in the nip-and-tuck battle for the West's No. 3 spot and dropped the Jazz back behind the idle Los Angeles Lakers in the race for the No. 8 seed — I'm going with the way the Nuggets celebrate when Italian forward Danilo Gallinari does something cool, like drain a 3-pointer to give his team a 15-point fourth-quarter lead ...
... because all of that's just the best.
The individual celebrations themselves — Gallinari's "bellissimo" kiss and the "what do you want?" gesture (appropriated ecstatically by JaVale, natch) — aren't new to the Nuggets. But the way they've spread like wildfire through the Denver bench and prompted sort of a call-and-response chorus where Gallo goes off, then looks over to see his teammates with their hands held high, is pretty amazing.
No individual Nugget is on the level of a Kent Bazemore, Robert Sacre, Ronny Turiaf or Patty Mills, but collectively — as a 12-man unit — they might be even stronger than those celebratory luminaries. Quite fitting, really.
Gallinari finished with a team-high 21 points on 6 for 10 shooting — his best shooting performance in nearly a month — to go with four rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes in Wednesday's win. Here's hoping he's still in shooting rhythm when he hits the floor Thursday to take on Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks — we're going to need more of Denver's Italian flavor as soon as possible.
Hat-tip to r/NBA user zyzzazz, whose sharing of a GIF of the proceedings made my morning.
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- Danilo Gallinari
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