Denver (34-32) at Milwaukee (34-30)

  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Fri Mar 12, 2004
  • TV: FSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Denver Nuggets hope to end their current slide and strengthen their hold on the final playoff spot in the Western Conference as they visit the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Nuggets have lost nine of their last 11, including Wednesday’s 98-97 road loss to the defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Nets.

Despite the slide, Denver remains eighth in the conference standings, a half-game ahead of surging Utah.

The Nuggets have already doubled their win total (17) from all of last season, but the team’s goal is to return to the playoffs for the first time since 1994-95.

“Anything other than playoffs is failure for us,” said Denver rookie Carmelo Anthony, who scored 24 points Wednesday. “We have to keep playing the way we’re playing. Some games we’ll come up short and some games we will win. We’ve got the eighth place right now, so we control our own destiny.”

Anthony, second among NBA rookies in scoring, has averaged 25 points over his last 11 games.

The Nuggets, who are wrapping up a three-game East Coast road trip that began with a 30-point rout of the Washington Wizards on Tuesday, have dropped five of their last six road games.

Denver hasn’t won at Milwaukee since a 101-99 decision on Dec. 11, 1999, and has lost three straight and seven of its last eight visits overall.

The Bucks are into a fourth-place tie in the East with New Orleans following their 94-80 home victory over Atlanta on Wednesday.

Keith Van Horn and Michael Redd had 23 points apiece for Milwaukee, which opened a four-game homestand after losing the last three games to conclude a four-game road trip.

“It wasn’t our best game of the year,” Milwaukee coach Terry Porter said. “But it was a win, so that dressed it up a bit for us. When you come off three losses, any win is pretty to us.”

The Bucks have played their best basketball at the Bradley Center, where they are 24-8— second-most home victories in the East behind the conference-leading Indiana Pacers (25).

Milwaukee, which is averaging an Eastern Conference-best 98 points, are scoring 101 points at home— eight more than it does on the road.

Following this matchup with Denver, the Bucks face New York on Sunday before wrapping up the homestand against Portland next Tuesday.

“We’ve been playing well at home and we want to win as many of these four games as we can, all of them if possible,” said Bucks forward Joe Smith, who scored 10 points Wednesday. “We just want to take care of our home court right now.”

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