Nate Robinson is out for an undetermined amount of time with a sprained ACL

When Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson went down with a strained rotator cuff earlier this week, it was assumed that the up and down team would take a hit without their leading scorer and assist-creator. With that in place, the Nuggets do have a reserve in Nate Robinson that at the very least approximates what Lawson does best, right up to approximating his sub-6-foot size. Robinson started for the Nuggets on Wednesday night in the team’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats, but he had to leave just six minutes into the first quarter after straining his knee, and Robinson did not return.

Robinson has been diagnosed with a sprained left ACL, which as far as we can remember (and research) is not an injury any recent NBA player has been diagnosed with. The ACL is the most important and fearsome of the four major knee ligaments, and ACL tears have been common throughout the league’s history – right down to recent stars like Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo and Nugget swingman Danilo Gallinari being forced to sit out huge chunks of time after tearing theirs.

Nate did not tear his, which clouds his expected recovery time significantly. From a team press release:

Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson has been ruled out of Friday’s game against the Toronto Raptors after an MRI Thursday revealed a sprained anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Robinson, averaging 10.4 points and 2.5 assists in 44 games this season, will be evaluated again Friday to determine a course of treatment.

We’re not trying to make light of things, but rarely do you see the acronym “ACL” used in the same sentence that describes whether or not a player can return from a game just one day away. With Lawson a possibility for that game despite his bum shoulder, this in the early stages at least points to an in-season return for Robinson.

This injury is recently unprecedented, so we can’t tell for sure. What is known is that the Nuggets, currently 2.5 games out of the playoff bracket in a deep Western Conference, will badly have to scramble for points with Robinson, Gallinari, JaVale McGee and potentially Lawson all out. One might think that guard Andre Miller – currently away from the team because of “personal reasons” – would find a way to play the hero and swoop in, but … nah. Probably not.

Nate is a dogged competitor and a great guy, and it’s unfortunate that this ailment befell him just as he took in his first starting turn of the season.

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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