The Nuggets, it is assumed, now are nugatory contenders. Realistically, they would not win the NBA championship with Danilo Gallinari, anyway. Even with the Western Conference's best record since the all-star break, they were as soft as a chipmunk's underbelly and, as the league's fourth-best team, aren't quite as compelling as the Thunder and the Spurs, and certainly not as scorching as the Heat. So, to have any chance, they have to get mean, passionate, intense and purposeful. With the loss of Gallinari, they must come together more forcefully as a team. And they can. They still go nine players deep, and only eight players historically are depended on in the playoffs. Each has to elevate his effort and results and grit to make up for 16 points, five rebounds and a starting forward. Frankly, Gallinari didn't play well in the postseason last year, and had been shooting only 39 percent in the second half of this season. He still hasn't developed into a star-caliber player, and Wilson Chandler, the new starter, should give the Nuggets the same, or better, numbers. At an average of 36 minutes, Chandler could average 17.8 points a game and 7.4 rebounds. He doesn't have Gallinari's speed or length, but he's a superior defensive player, and is tougher. Before the trade and injuries whacked him, Chandler averaged 16.4 and 5.9 as a starter.