The Denver Nuggets are just one-half game out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
They’ll try to improve their postseason chances when they host the Los Angeles Clippers.
Denver, which has lost three straight, is tied with Portland for ninth in the West—one-half game behind Utah. If the Nuggets hope to grab that final berth, they’ll need to play better than they have recently.
They shot just 30.9 percent from the field Sunday in a 98-77 loss to Minnesota.
“We were off tonight,” said Denver forward Carmelo Anthony, who shot just 6-for-22 and scored 13 points. “We’ve got to want to win. We’ve been going through the motions recently. Maybe this is a wake-up call for us.”
The Nuggets, fifth in the league in scoring, shot 4-for-24 in the first quarter, with Anthony and point guard Andre Miller combining for 1-for-14. Denver scored only 25 points in the first half.
“There’s no room for mistakes now,” Anthony said.
Anthony caused a stir on Friday when he refused to play the final six minutes of the Nuggets’ 94-75 loss to the Detroit Pistons, upset by teammates’ comments on his shot selection. He apologized at practice Saturday, and the Nuggets will not fine him.
The Clippers, who will be out of the playoffs for the seventh straight season, have lost three straight.
Los Angeles used its 23rd different starting lineup this season.
“Missing three starters was kind of tough, but I didn’t feel helpless out there,” said Clippers forward Elton Brand, who scored a team-high 20 points.
“Four of our five top scorers were out, but we were still in this game and we could have won it. We just didn’t bring the energy. Guys were coming off the bench filling those spots and they had to step up. It was just disappointing.”