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Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari injures left knee versus Mavericks

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    Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari, of Italy, is wheeled off the court after being injured in the second quarter against the Dallas Mavericks in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Thursday, April 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Arni Stapleton)The Associated Press

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    Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari, of Italy, uses his jersey to cover his face as he is wheeled to the team's locker room after being injured against the Dallas Mavericks in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Thursday, April 4, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)The Associated Press

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    Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari, of Italy, uses his jersey to cover his face as he is wheeled to the locker room by the team's head trainer Jim Gillen, front, after being injured against the Dallas Mavericks in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Thursday, April 4, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)The Associated Press

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    Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari, front left, of Italy, works ball inside between Dallas Mavericks center Chris Kaman, back left, and forward Shawn Marion in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Thursday, April 4, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)The Associated Press

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    Dallas Mavericks forward Shawn Marion, right, goes up for a shot as Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari, of Italy, covers in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Thursday, April 4, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)The Associated Press

Denver Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari appeared to suffer a serious injury to his left knee Thursday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

Gallinari's left knee buckled inward as he drove to the basket for a layup in the first half. He gave up the ball, grabbed his knee and hopped to the sideline, where he sat down, writhing in pain as Darren Collison scored at the other end for Dallas.

Gallinari was helped off the court by reserves Timofey Mozgov and Quincy Miller. After a few halting steps, he was seated in a wheelchair and taken to the locker room for evaluation.

The team didn't have any immediate word on the extent of his injury, saying only that he was scheduled for an MRI on Friday.

Gallinari is the Nuggets' second-leading scorer at 16.3 points per game. Their top scorer, Ty Lawson (16.7) is out indefinitely with a tear in his bruised right heel.

The Nuggets entered the game third in the Western Conference in their quest for home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs, a task that will be a whole lot harder without Gallinari.

The Mavericks were in a tight race with the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot.