Celts’ Gallinari (knee) exits FIBA game; MRI next

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Italy forward Danilo Gallinari left a FIBA World Cup qualifying game on Saturday because of a left knee injury.

The Boston Celtics veteran grabbed the knee after a bounce pass in the lane during the game against Georgia in Brescia, Italy. While play continued, he hobbled over to the sideline, holding the back of the knee as trainers rushed to his aid. He limped off to the locker room with the help of a staff member and a teammate.

Italy won the game 91-84. Gallinari had 17 points, four rebounds and an assist in the victory. In the postgame news conference, team captain Luigi Datome confirmed Gallinari will have an MRI on the knee.

“It’s tough to talk about basketball after what what we saw happen to Danilo,” a sullen Datome said. “We wish him, of course, the best, and we will wait for the MRI to see what happened to him.”

Gallinari, 34, signed with the Celtics as a free agent through a mid-level exception July 12 and will be counted on for depth as Boston looks to return to the NBA Finals. A month later, he began working out with the national team.

“It’s not so easy to talk to about basketball right now. There’s something so much more important than everything else. I’ve been so proud to coach Gallo,” Italy coach Gianmarco Pozzecco said. “He was so excited to play with this group, and they all respect Gallo, of course, because he’s one of the best, probably the best Italian basketball player ever.”

Spending the past two seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, Gallinari’s scoring average dipped from 13.3 points to 11.7 points, though he has been a durable player for five teams across his 12-year NBA career.

A first-round draft pick of the New York Knicks in 2008, Gallinari has also played for the Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder.

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