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DENVER — Kelly Olynyk will be sidelined by another ankle injury, this time a badly sprained right ankle that is expected to cause the second-year forward to miss the next three weeks.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Olynyk, who sprained his ankle landing on the foot of Thomas Robinson in Thursday’s 90-89 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, returned to Boston and will be examined this weekend to determine the extent of the sprain.

Olynyk left Moda Center on crutches. After the sprain, he limped to halfcourt and asked out of the game. He was taken by wheelchair to the Blazers’ X-ray room for an initial examination. Olynyk missed 10 games last season with a sprained left ankle, an injury that partly derailed his rookie season.

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“I think it’s a sprained ankle, that’s what we think,” Stevens said before the Celtics’ 100-99 win over the Nuggets on Friday night. “An MRI will tell us more but he got it pretty good. It was just a twist.”

Without Olynyk, Stevens said the Celtics will have to alter their rotations, perhaps opening opportunities for newly acquired Shavlik Randolph and veteran Gerald Wallace.

“I think we’re gonna end up playing a lot of different people,’’ Stevens said. “We’re going to try to play as fresh as we can.”

Olynyk will likely miss the All-Star Weekend’s Rising Stars Challenge, which will pit 10 American-born first- and second-year players against 10 international first- and second-year players.

Nelson stepping up

The Nuggets were without starting point guard Ty Lawson, who was arrested early Friday morning for driving under the influence after attending a team charity event earlier in the evening. Lawson was placed on the inactive list, giving Jameer Nelson the start against his former team.

Nelson, who finished with 23 points and seven assists Friday night, was acquired by the Nuggets on Jan. 13 after spending 25 days with the Celtics after being involved in the Rajon Rondo deal. Nelson is averaging 15 points and 5.8 assists in five games after shooting just 22 percent in six games with Boston.

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While Nelson said he is happy in Denver, he implied that he never discussed a trade possibility with the Celtics. It appears Nelson was waiting for a buyout so he could choose his next destination.

While Denver is offering him an opportunity to play, the Nuggets are unlikely to reach the playoffs in the Western Conference.

“I am fortunate to be here, for an organization that wanted me and I had an opportunity to come here in the offseason and it didn’t work out,” he said. “[With the Celtics] I understand what’s going on with the team. I just always stayed focused as much as I could, help guys out.”

Nelson said he was stunned by the trade.

“I was a little surprised because that’s not what we talked about,” he said of the Celtics.

“But everything happens for a reason but I’m blessed. I don’t want to get into [what we talked about] but when I woke up from my nap, I was traded. I had no idea I was about to be traded.”

Said Nuggets coach Brian Shaw about Nelson: “He has been great for us. He is a natural leader. He has come in and been more vocal than anybody in the year and a half I’ve been here. He has been a godsend.”

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Bass a fast healer

Brandon Bass leaped to block a Chris Kaman layup attempt in Thursday’s win, only Kaman pump-faked, and Bass flipped over Kaman onto the hard floor with 7:04 left in the fourth quarter. Bass crumbled to the floor and was writhing in pain.

His night looked done. A mere 3:04 later, Bass returned to the lineup, playing all but the final 8.5 seconds of the Celtics’ win.

Thursday was another example of Bass’s toughness and importance to the team, despite the fact that he’s playing on an expiring contract on a rebuilding team.

He was back in the starting lineup Friday against Denver, despite some body pain.

“I felt everything,” said Bass, who finished with 17 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals in the comeback win over the Nuggets.

“When I landed and my shoulder hit the ground, everything. But I got back up.”

On Thursday in Portland Bass made his first start of the season after making 181 starts in the past three seasons. He accepted his new role, but admitted being one of the first five is important.

“Starting to me means a lot, but I also don’t mind fulfilling my role no matter what it is,” he said. “It just felt good. I just thought I was myself, out there playing defense and taking advantage of my opportunities.”

When told he set a career high of five assists, Bass said: “That’s what I do, I drop dimes. Nah I didn’t know that.”

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Opening for Young?

With Olynyk inactive, that opens the opportunity for James Young to get playing time, as he was placed on the active list. Young missed the previous three games with the flu but practiced Thursday and was working out before Friday’s game with strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo. He did not play Friday . . . The Nuggets welcomed back Danilo Gallinari, who missed the past 15 games with a torn right meniscus. He had 4 points in 17 minutes. Shaw also said that center JaVale McGee would suit up for Denver but not play. He has been limited to just 19 games over the past two years because of leg injuries . . . The Celtics officially signed former Duke guard Andre Dawkins to a 10-day contract and assigned him to NBADL Maine. Dawkins had averaged 22.3 points per game for Sioux Falls of the NBADL.


Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.