Denver (39-36) has a 1 1/2 game lead over the Clippers (37-37) for the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings, and trail the sixth-place Los Angeles Lakers by just one-half game. All three teams are trying to fend off the Golden State Warriors, who are in ninth place - one game back of the Clippers.
The Nuggets have seven games left in the regular season while the Clippers have eight. The Lakers and Warriors each have six contests remaining.
Denver comes into Saturday’s game having won four straight, including a 75-71 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. The Nuggets shot a dismal 35.5 percent from the field and the 75 points were a season low, but Carmelo Anthony stole Dirk Nowitzki’s pass and hit two free throws with nine seconds left to seal the win.
Despite the lackluster night on offense, coach George Karl was pleased with his team defensively.
“We have a tape that we can show them that (Dallas) can be a great defensive team,” Karl said. “We play defense and we’re going to find answers offensively. I’ve said that since the day we made the (Allen Iverson) trade. I think we’re a dangerous basketball team. And hopefully this will build confidence and a chemistry.”
Anthony finished with 23 points on 7-of-21 shooting after scoring at least 30 points in the previous four games. Allen Iverson had 22 and Nene added 16.
This is the third matchup between Denver and the Clippers this season. The teams split the two previous meetings, with the home team winning each time.
Los Angeles has won three straight games and seven of eight, including a 90-82 victory over the Lakers on Wednesday. Corey Maggette scored 22 points to lead five Clippers in double figures.
The Clippers scored just 33 second-half points, but held the Lakers to just 13 points in the fourth quarter to earn the victory and reach the .500 mark for the first time since Feb. 9.
“In the fourth quarter, our guys did a great job defensively,” Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. “They locked down the last two minutes. I thought we were particularly strong, and that’s the way we need to play.”
Los Angeles has bounced back after a 6-14 stretch, which seemed to drop the Clippers out of playoff contention. They play four of their last six games at home, where they are 24-13 this season.
“On paper, we’re one of the best teams in the league,” said Clippers center Chris Kaman, who had 17 points and 14 rebounds Wednesday for his second double-double in three games. “We’re just starting to jell.”