Denver (13-8) at Toronto (8-14)

By NOEY KUPCHAN, STATS Writer Thursday, Dec 9, 2010 Tipoff: 7:00 pm EST Fri Dec 10, 2010

Putting his name in elite company hasn’t quite gone as planned for Denver Nuggets coach George Karl. It won’t be any easier to do if Carmelo Anthony(notes) is unavailable again.

Karl will attempt to record win No. 1,000 for the third time while the Nuggets look for their seventh consecutive victory over the Toronto Raptors on Friday night at Air Canada Centre.

Anthony was scratched before Wednesday night’s 105-89 loss at Boston with inflammation in his right knee and is considered day-to-day.

“I’m somewhat surprised by it,” said Karl, fourth among active coaches in wins. “I kind of knew there was a chance he wouldn’t go (at) about 15 minutes before the game.”

Anthony, averaging a team-high 22.8 points, missed a game for the first time this season. He has been struggling, shooting 30.6 percent from the field in four games this month.

Anthony’s last game was Karl’s first chance to reach the milestone, but Denver lost 100-98 in Charlotte on Tuesday to have a seven-game win streak snapped.

With Karl trying to join Don Nelson, Lenny Wilkens, Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan, Phil Jackson and Larry Brown as the only coaches with 1,000 wins, the Nuggets (13-9) have lost consecutive games for only the second time this season.

Missing its leading scorer Wednesday, Denver trailed by 14 at the end of the first quarter and was held to its second-lowest point total of the season, including 37 in the second half.

The Nuggets are averaging 98.0 points on the road compared to an NBA-best 111.4 at home. They’re 0-6 as the visiting team when scoring below 100 points.

Chauncey Billups’(notes) struggles continued Wednesday, going 2 of 10 from the field and finishing with a season-low five points. Billups has shot 31.6 percent over the past four games but could bounce back in Toronto, where he’s averaged 21.1 points on 50.5 percent shooting in his last eight visits.

Nene has scored 20.0 per game in his last four matchups with Toronto while hitting 69.6 percent from the field.

The Raptors (8-14) will look to end a three-game slide after falling 113-110 in New York on Wednesday night despite 41 points from Andrea Bargnani(notes).

Bargnani, whose previous career high was 34, went 16 of 24 from the field. He was 2 for 3 from 3-point range after going 1 for 18 in his previous six games, averaging 16.2 points.

Toronto lost Wednesday on a late 3-pointer, but that result against a hot Knicks team provided some optimism after the Raptors had dropped their previous two games by an average of 20.5 points.

“The most important thing right now is that we did a great job and we fought through until the end of the game,” guard Leandro Barbosa(notes) said. “We’re getting better. The effort that we put in tonight was great and I think that’s the way that we’re supposed to play every night and try to get a victory.”

Linas Kleiza(notes), who spent his first four years in the league with Denver, will face his former team for the first time. Kleiza is averaging 9.6 points.

Toronto has been outscored by 17.6 points during its six-game losing streak against Denver.

Peja Stojakovic(notes) missed his sixth straight game as he continues to deal with a swollen left knee. His status for Friday is unknown.

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