Still expecting to be without star forward Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets look to snap a season-high four-game losing streak when they host the Dallas Mavericks—their fifth straight opponent with a winning record.
Anthony sprained his left ankle in a 107-100 loss to the Miami Heat on Dec. 17 and has missed three straight games, including the Nuggets’ 98-83 defeat at Seattle on Wednesday.
Denver has dropped four in a row and six of seven to fall back to .500 for the first time since Nov. 26 (6-6). The losing streak, which includes defeats to Orlando and Phoenix, has been against teams with a combined .757 winning percentage (78-25).
Anthony was averaging 26.7 points on 47 percent shooting from the field in his last seven games. While he didn’t make the trip to Seattle, he did some jogging and shooting Wednesday but still remains questionable for Sunday’s matchup.
Denver is also getting limited play from starters Greg Buckner and Marcus Camby, who have been battling acute bronchitis. They combined for 30 minutes Wednesday as the Nuggets got off to a sloppy start with 14 first-half turnovers.
“It’s frustrating playing all these good teams without all our players,” said forward DerMarr Johnson, who started in place of Anthony and had eight points in 29 minutes. “We knew we’d make a run at some point, but we just dug too deep a hole.”
Andre Miller led the team with 20 points and seven assists while Kenyon Martin added 18 points. Rodney White scored 17 off the bench for the Nuggets, who are allowing an average of 106.4 points and 49 percent shooting in the last seven games.
Denver, which played eight of its last nine on the road, has two of its next three at home.
Dallas has split its last four games after a 113-100 defeat at Atlanta.
Josh Howard, Jason Terry, and Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points each for Dallas, which committed a season-high 24 turnovers. The Mavericks allowed the Hawks to shoot 53.5 percent and gave up season highs in points in the paint (66), second-chance points (23) and points off turnovers (29).
“The bottom line was we weren’t ready to play,” said Nowitzki, who fouled out with less than a minute left. “We could have been beaten by anybody tonight.”
After losing nine straight meetings, Denver has won three of the last four against Dallas. A victory Sunday would ensure the Nuggets their first season series win over the Mavs since 1994-95.