Washington (24-24) at Denver (29-19)

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  • Game info: 10:30 pm EST Fri Feb 8, 2008
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The Denver Nuggets hope a meeting with the slumping Washington Wizards on Friday night can help them quickly forget a difficult overtime loss to the top team in their division.

The Nuggets (29-19) fell 118-115 in overtime to Northwest Division-leading Utah on Wednesday as they missed two shots that could have helped secure their fourth consecutive win. Carmelo Anthony missed an open 19-footer at the buzzer in regulation, and Allen Iverson failed to convert with 5 seconds to go in the extra session.

The loss dropped second-place Denver two games behind of the Jazz, who host Sacramento earlier on Friday.

“I just wish we wouldn’t have dug the hole we did in the first half,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “It’s a fun team to be a part of when we do things the right way and it’s hard to handle when we don’t. We seem to play with the game a little bit.”

Now, the Nuggets hope to capitalize when they wrap up their season series with the Wizards (24-24), who are looking to avoid losing a sixth game in a row for the first time since April 3-11. Denver has won eight of the last 10 from Washington, including a 118-92 road victory on Nov. 9.

Anthony scored 32 points in that contest, and is looking to build on Wednesday’s 29-point performance, during which he shot 10-for-17. The All-Star small forward is fourth in the NBA with 25.7 points per game, trailing Iverson’s team-high 27.1, good for third in NBA.

Iverson, who had 34 points against Utah, struggled against the Wizards earlier this season, going 5-for-13 for 15 points. Still, he’s averaging 28.8 points in 32 career games against them.

Washington’s losing streak reached a season high-tying five games Wednesday with an 85-77 loss to defending NBA champion San Antonio.

The Wizards, who are 9-13 on the road this season as they begin a four-game swing, hope Caron Butler can return to the lineup after having missed four of the last six games with a hip flexor injury.

Butler, who is averaging a career-high 21.4 points and last week was named to the East All-Star team with teammate Antawn Jamison, aggravated the injury in a 101-96 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday and is day-to-day.

Washington is 7-24 when Butler doesn’t play since he was acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers in August 2005.

The Wizards also have played 40 games without Gilbert Arenas (left knee surgery), and the lack of reliable scorers is starting to show. The Wizards are averaging 86.8 points during their current skid, 11.3 points below their season average.

“We don’t have those type of creators right now,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “We have to allow for our offense to help us, and that’s what’s been happening for the most part. And when we do have those lulls in the offense, it’s tough for us to score.”

Andray Blatche will likely get another start if Butler can’t play. He scored 16 points and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds Wednesday, and is averaging 16.5 points and 10.8 boards in four starts as Butler’s replacement.

Overall, Blatche is averaging 6.9 points and 5.1 rebounds this season.

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Friday, Feb 8