Before then, the Nuggets look to post back-to-back wins at Orlando for the first time ever Sunday in their final trip to Amway Arena for a matchup between potential NBA title contenders.
Denver (48-25) is 18-19 on the road this season, but that record away from home has been nothing compared to its futility in Orlando.
The Nuggets are 3-18 against the Magic (51-22) in their aging arena since the franchise entered the league in 1989. Denver snapped a 15-game losing streak at Orlando with an 82-73 win Feb. 11, 2009.
Orlando, 29-7 at Amway this season, has five regular-season home games remaining, but hopes to leave the arena after a lengthy playoff run.
Sunday’s matchup could be a potential NBA championship preview. Each club is in position to finish second in their respective conferences, and Orlando has already clinched a playoff spot.
Denver looks to improve to 2-2 on a five-game swing after winning 97-96 at Toronto on Friday. Carmelo Anthony(notes) scored 25 points and hit an 18-foot fadeaway at the buzzer to help Denver snap a three-game losing streak.
“I think hitting one on the road, you get that much more joy out of it,” said Anthony, who’s averaging 31.0 points on the trip. “You’ve got 20,000 people against you and you can make a shot to silence them? That feels good.”
Nene added 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists as Denver overcame a 41.2-percent shooting effort and nine-point fourth-quarter deficit.
“We didn’t quit and that’s the bottom line,” said assistant coach Adrian Dantley, who improved to 5-5 while filling in for George Karl as he undergoes cancer treatment.
Despite the Nuggets’ struggles in Orlando, Anthony has averaged 30.6 points in five career road games versus the Magic. He had 29 in last season’s win at Orlando, and 27 in Denver’s 115-97 home win over the Magic on Jan. 13.
Orlando’s Dwight Howard(notes) was held to eight points but pulled down 13 rebounds in the January meeting. However, he’s recorded 39 points and 39 rebounds in his last two home games against the Nuggets.
Howard had 24 points, 19 boards and four blocked shots in Orlando’s 106-97 win over Minnesota on Friday. Averaging 13.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game, Howard is trying to become the first NBA player to lead the league in both categories for two consecutive seasons.
“What Dwight’s doing is really unbelievable,” Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He’s so far out in front of everybody in those two categories that he might have to average like two or three rebounds and block three or four more shots to win. He’s just having a phenomenal year.”
Howard is more concerned about helping the Magic take the next step after reaching the NBA Finals last season.
“All the individual accomplishments are great, but winning a championship is what we’re really looking forward to,” he said. “I’ll look back 20 years from now and be happy about breaking records and stuff, but I just want to win a championship.”