Kings-Nuggets Preview

The Associated Press

With lopsided losses piling up and no timetable for the return of their best player, the Denver Nuggets' streak of postseason appearances looks all but over.

At least facing the woeful Sacramento Kings might provide a brief break from their struggles.

Denver seeks its 11th win in 12 meetings on Sunday night when it hosts Sacramento.

The Nuggets (25-29) have reached the playoffs each of the last 10 seasons - the second-longest active streak behind San Antonio's 16 straight appearances - but are 7 1/2 games back of Dallas for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

They've also lost six of seven and it's unclear when scoring leader Ty Lawson (18.0 ppg) will return after missing the last five games with a broken left rib. Denver is 1-4 during that stretch and averaging 94.0 points on 41.0 percent shooting. The Nuggets had been averaging 101.8 points while shooting 45.0 percent.

"I don't know if he's getting close or if he's not," coach Brian Shaw said. "He says he's feeling better."

Five of Denver's last six losses have come by 17-plus points after it had suffered only three such defeats in the previous 47 contests. The latest was a 117-89 setback at Chicago on Friday. Aaron Brooks provided a spark with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting in first game since being acquired from Houston a day earlier, but the Nuggets fell into a 32-12 hole early.

Randy Foye scored 23 points, while Kenneth Faried tallied just eight in 27 minutes after totaling 47 points over his previous two contests.

"It felt like tonight we had some guys who just decided they weren't going to play, they weren't going to put forth any effort to get the job done," Shaw said. "It's unfortunate."

Denver split two games in Sacramento earlier this season, most recently taking a 125-117 victory Jan. 26.

The Kings (19-36) are still tied for the worst record in the Western Conference despite winning two of their last three following a 105-98 home victory over Boston on Saturday. Rudy Gay tallied eight of his 22 points in the final six minutes while Isaiah Thomas finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

DeMarcus Cousins added 13 points after missing Wednesday's loss to Golden State with a hip injury. Sacramento claimed a 40-26 advantage in points in the paint after being outscored 52-32 without Cousins against the Warriors.

"We'll take the win, but we have to get a lot better," coach Michael Malone said after his team won despite committing 18 turnovers. The Kings turned the ball over 21 times versus Golden State.

Cousins has 54 points and 29 rebounds over his last two matchups with Denver, though he sat out the last meeting with an ankle injury.

He said the hip continues to bother him.

''I had to do a couple of exercises on the sideline just to loosen it back up,'' he said. ''It tightened up on me during the game a few times. It's bothering me a lot right now. Just running up the floor was tough.''

The Kings announced Saturday that Jason Terry - acquired along with Reggie Evans from Brooklyn in exchange for Marcus Thornton on Thursday - would spend the remainder of the season rehabilitating his left knee. Terry has posted career lows in minutes (16.3) points (4.5) and field-goal percentage (36.2) for the Nets.

Darrell Arthur is listed as day-to-day for Denver with a strained hip suffered in the second quarter of Friday's loss.

The Nuggets have won eight in a row at home versus Sacramento.