Camby has pinkie surgery, out at least 1-2 weeks

Updated: January 1, 2006, 7:20 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Marcus Camby, the NBA's leading rebounder, underwent surgery Thursday on his right broken pinkie, the latest in a long list of injuries that have hampered the Denver Nuggets.

Denver Nuggets

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He'll be out at least one to two weeks, possibly longer.

"I was trying to persuade the doctor that I could keep playing with it," Camby said. "He was like, 'No.' I would risk further injury to myself and neither one of us would have wanted that. It's a frustrating time [to miss]. I'm just going to try to get back as quickly as I can."

Camby is in the midst of his best season, averaging 16.3 points and 12.9 rebounds and 3.12 blocks a game, second-best in the league.

Denver, however, has struggled to hover around .500 because of its rash of injuries.

Already, the Nuggets have lost power forward Nene for the season with a knee injury. Kenyon Martin has missed 10 games with a bad knee. Earl Boykins recently missed six games with a pulled hamstring and Greg Buckner missed three with a strained groin.

With their frontcourt in such disarray, the Nuggets have been forced to go with small lineups, play more zone and double-team shooters, making them susceptible both on the glass and the perimeter.

"When you're short-handed you've got to kind of throw some more tricks into the game," coach George Karl said. "Sometimes they work and then usually the weakness when they don't work is the 3-point shot because someone put that line out there and kind of screwed up some things."

Broken fingers can take up to a month to heal and Karl said Camby would be evaluated every week.

Camby sprained his finger in practice on Dec. 14 when it got caught in another player's shirt and he missed three games. Then, on Monday night, he broke it when he hit his injured finger on the rim in a game at Golden State. Despite the swelling and pain, he started in a 108-106 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday night but played only 6 minutes.

"We thought he had a minor injury on his hand, but now Marcus is going to be out for a while so it's going to be tougher for us to win ballgames," forward Eduardo Najera said. "I think that our mental focus and our intensity's got to be raised to make up for Marcus. But we've still got a talented team and we'll be fine.

"Hopefully K-Mart will return and we'll start playing better."

Karl has often said his CBA days prepared him for such revolving-door lineups and that experience is being tapped like never before.

"I think so. I mean, I think a big part of basketball is perseverance and that's where we're at," he said. "I mean, we're not going to win 10 in a row but we can persevere through to win enough games to stay in the hunt and stay in the fight and I think we're going to do that. And it's an opportunity for players to get better."

Karl cited Carmelo Anthony's growth in particular. He also said guards Earl Watson and Boykins are benefiting from more minutes.

"You hate moral victories and you hate getting better as a positive," Karl said. "But when you play ... with as many injuries as we've had sometimes that's the reward. Not wins, but the reward comes in a different package. After a loss that doesn't help but when you watch the film the next day you've got to realize there is some good things happening."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press