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Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic holds ...
Eric Christian Smith, The Associated Press
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic holds his ankle after injuring himself during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017, in Houston. Jokic remained in the game.
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Nuggets center Nikola Jokic missed Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers with a left ankle sprain sustained in the first half of Thursday’s win over the Chicago Bulls.

Coach Michael Malone said after the team’s shootaround Saturday that he expects Jokic to be out “the next couple games.”

“Unlike the other ankle injury (sustained Nov. 22 at Houston),” Malone said, “when he hurt it (Thursday), this one swelled up right away. I was surprised he was able to get his sneaker on, it was so swollen.”

The Nuggets begin a six-game road trip Monday in Dallas. Malone said Jokic will travel with the team, but that returning to the floor on the second half of that trip is “probably, right now, the best-case scenario.”

Denver is also missing all-star power forward Paul Millsap, who is out for months while recovering from reconstructive wrist surgery. Starting small forward Wilson Chandler also missed his fourth of the last six games with lower back pain, leaving Denver without its starting frontcourt.

“He wants to try to get it to a point where he feels like he can play throughout and not just be in one game and out the other,” Malone said of Chandler. “That’s hard for him, and it’s hard for the team. I think with that kind of injury, it’s gonna be something that we’ll have to monitor throughout the season.”

Denver started Mason Plumlee at center, Kenneth Faried at power forward and Juancho Hernangomez at small forward Saturday.

Who facilitates? Jokic and Millsap both average more than three assists per game, a high figure for big men. Without them on the floor, several other players will take on that facilitating responsibility for the Nuggets.

Will Barton, who scored a career-high 37 points against the Bulls, has been Denver’s de facto point guard at times this season. Malone again publicly implored the young point guard tandem of Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay to “get going” after recent performances with too many turnovers and missed shots. The coach also believes Plumlee “is more than capable” of having portions of the offense run through him after previously holding that type of role with Portland.

“What a great opportunity for other guys to step up,” Malone said. “When you have the injuries that we have right now, everybody’s gotta step up.”

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