Nuggets-Pacers Preview

The Associated PressFebruary 11, 2012

After jumping out to a great start to the season, the injury-plagued Denver Nuggets suddenly find themselves on the verge of matching their longest losing streak in more than seven years.

The Indiana Pacers are also looking to regroup from a rough patch of their own.

The Nuggets try to avoid a sixth consecutive defeat Saturday night against a Pacers team coming off back-to-back losses for the first time.

Denver (15-12), which won 14 of its first 19, has since dropped seven of eight - including five straight by an average of 10.2 points. One night after losing 105-95 to Dallas, the Nuggets were dealt a 109-101 defeat at the hands of Golden State on Thursday.

"The last two home losses we've had, teams have just hit incredible shots," said Arron Afflalo, who scored a season-high 26 points. "That's a credit to them a little bit, but our defensive intensity, including myself, needs to pick up."

Denver has been held to 94.4 points per game during its skid - significantly lower than its NBA-best mark of 103.6. While playing without leading scorer Danilo Gallinari (chip fracture in left foot) for the last two games certainly hasn't helped, coach George Karl believes it's simply a matter of bringing a more inspired effort going forward.

"If you don't have energy, maybe we'll have to go somewhere else," Karl told the team's official website. "It has nothing to do with your skills right now. We need energy to play with tempo and pace and not play like we're in mud or the old guys at the rec center.

"We've got to run up and down the court. That's what we committed to and that's what got us a lot of our wins this year. I don't think I'm going to back off of it."

The Pacers (17-9) enter this matchup losers of three of four after getting swept on a two-game road swing. Indiana suffered a 97-87 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday before falling 98-92 at Memphis on Friday.

While they held a 48-37 rebounding advantage, the Pacers were outscored 12-6 over the final 4:29.

"The biggest different was the willingness to win. They had a little bit more will than us," Darren Collison told "They wanted it more and that's something that we just can't have. Road or at home, we've got to try and find a way to win games and tonight was that case."

David West posted season highs of 22 points and 13 rebounds versus the Grizzlies, and Danny Granger scored 19 points despite being limited by early foul trouble.

The Pacers have to like their chances of getting back on track at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana has held opponents to just 88.8 points per game in going 7-2 on its own court - with both losses coming against Orlando.

The Pacers have dropped 11 of 14 meetings in this series, though they made things quite rough on Denver during its last visit to Indiana. The Pacers scored a franchise-record 54 points in the third quarter of a 144-113 rout Nov. 9, 2010.

Indiana is 9-2 when Granger, who leads the team with an average of 18.3 points, scores at least 21. He is averaging just 16.4 points over five career home meetings with the Nuggets.

Denver hasn't lost six consecutive games since Dec. 17-27, 2004.

Averaging 17.0 points, Gallinari is expected to miss around a month. Timofey Mozgov (ankle) likely won't be available in this one either. Corey Brewer's status, meanwhile, remains unknown as he continues to mourn the death of his father.