Consecutive losses have the Denver Nuggets sweating a little, if not a lot, in the Northwest Division race.
Denver looks to reduce its magic number to five when it hosts the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Pepsi Center.
The Nuggets lead Utah by 5 1/2 games with 10 remaining and are trying to capture their first division crown since 1987-88.
Following a stretch in which they went 9-2 to take a commanding lead in the division, the Nuggets turned the ball over 22 times in a sloppy 107-96 loss to Phoenix last Saturday.
Three days later, they grabbed a season-low 17 defensive rebounds without Marcus Camby in the lineup in a 115-104 defeat against the Jazz.
“We were a happy team, but not a serious team,” said Nuggets coach George Karl of the effort versus Utah. “They were a playoff-serious team who knew they had to win this game.”
Camby, sidelined with a back strain, has missed 24 of the team’s 72 games this season. He is questionable for the game against the Timberwolves.
Anthony has scored at least 28 points in nine straight games, averaging 31.7 points on 55.4 percent shooting over that span.
Minnesota has lost 10 straight road games and 14 of its last 15 away from the Target Center.
Still mathematically alive for the postseason, the 13th-seeded Timberwolves trail Sacramento by 5 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff spot with just 11 games left.
The Timberwolves are on the verge of missing the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time since 1995-96.
In a 103-91 victory over Orlando on Wednesday—Minnesota’s fourth in six games following a seven-game losing streak—Kevin Garnett scored 27 points and grabbed 19 rebounds and Ricky Davis had 26 points and 10 assists.
Minnesota shot 55.3 percent from the field.
“All these wins are big wins,” Garnett said. “That’s how it’s going to be until the end of the year. We’ve got to continue to compete and just play. Orlando came out with a lot of energy. They had a nice little rhythm to start, and in the second half we just got more defensive conscious and never looked back.”
The win upped the Timberwolves’ record to 12-4 when they shoot 50.0 percent or better this season. When they don’t, they are just 18-37.
Garnett’s 27 points were his most in five games.
The Nuggets have won three of the last four meetings in the series, including two of three this season.