The Denver Nuggets are coming off their first loss in two weeks, but they might have something to look forward to when they return home for their next contest.
Coach George Karl could make his return to the sidelines Tuesday night when the Nuggets try for a fourth consecutive home win over the lowly Washington Wizards.
Karl announced Friday that he would miss Denver’s final three games of a four-game road trip to adjust to a feeding tube that was placed into his stomach as part of his cancer treatment. He said he could rejoin the team for this game as the Nuggets (45-22) open a three-game homestand. Assistant Adrian Dantley has been coaching the team the past three games.
“Hopefully I’ll be ready to rejoin them when they come home,” said Karl, who was diagnosed last month with neck and throat cancer and continues to undergo a rigorous treatment program of radiation and chemotherapy.
Karl’s potential return would likely inspire a group that had its six-game winning streak snapped with a 125-123 loss at Houston on Monday.
Though the Nuggets rallied from 16 points down to lead by 11 with 10 minutes left in the game, they couldn’t put away the Rockets, who scored 32 points in the final quarter. The loss dropped Denver into a tie for second place in the Western Conference, four games behind the first-place Los Angeles Lakers.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to get away with that, come playoff time,” Anthony said of his team’s late collapse. “That’s something that’s fixable and we need to do it quick.”
The Nuggets hope they’re able to do it and avoid a second straight upset loss to Washington (21-44), which snapped a five-game losing streak to the Nuggets with a 107-97 home win Feb. 19.
The Wizards, however, have lost a season-high eight in a row overall, and dropped six of seven at Denver. They also will try to contain Anthony, who’s coming off his seventh 40-point game this season.
The All-Star is averaging 30.6 points on 52.5 percent shooting in his last seven games for the Nuggets, who are scoring 117.0 points per contest during that span. Anthony is averaging 30.1 points in his last eight games against Washington.
Andray Blatche(notes) had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Wizards in that contest. Blatche, who has become the team’s top player since it traded away stars Antawn Jamison(notes) and Caron Butler(notes) last month, had 24 points in Washington’s 112-89 loss at Utah on Monday.
Averaging 87.8 points during their current skid, the Wizards shot 36.9 percent and were outscored 31-15 by the Jazz in the third quarter.
“We tried, but they just outworked us,” said Blatche, who’s averaging 24.5 points and 9.6 rebounds since becoming a full-time starter Feb. 17.