An ongoing defensive decline has the Dallas Mavericks also plummeting in the standings.
With the losses continuing to mount, the reeling Mavericks attempt to reverse a lack of recent success in Denver in Monday night's increasingly important matchup with the Nuggets.
Sixth in the West on March 2, Dallas (35-38) has since dropped a half-game behind eighth-place Houston by losing 10 of 12 during a swoon that's endangered its chances of a 15th playoff appearance in 16 seasons.
''We've got to decide if we want to go home after the last (regular season) game or not,'' guard Wesley Matthews said following Sunday's 133-111 loss at Sacramento. ''(Do) we want to keep playing for something or not? Do we want to lay everything out on the line every single night nine more times and let the chips fall?''
Though injuries – Chandler Parsons underwent season-ending knee surgery on Friday and Deron Williams will miss a third straight game with an abdominal strain – have played a role, an inability to stop opponents has been the biggest factor in the Mavericks' drop-off. Dallas is allowing a league-worst 112.3 points per game since Feb. 5 and 124.0 per game over its last five.
The Mavericks may have reached rock bottom in the most recent one, when they let the Kings shoot a season-high 62.2 percent – the worst they've allowed since January 2010 versus the Los Angeles Lakers – to fall to 0-3 on this four-game trip.
“We've got enough manpower here. We've just got to find a way to do better collectively, that's the bottom line,” coach Rick Carlisle said.
Dallas has lost four straight overall as the visitor and is nearing its longest road skid since a six-game slide in December 2012. Preventing another could prove difficult, as Denver (31-43) has won five straight at Pepsi Center and five of the series' last six matchups at home.
The Nuggets posted a 116-114 home victory in overtime over the Mavericks on March 6, avenging a 122-116 overtime defeat in Dallas nine days earlier.
Denver's hopes of earning a split of the four-game season set may be compromised as well if Kenneth Faried (back) misses a seventh consecutive game. The forward amassed 25 points and a season-high 20 rebounds in the teams' last meeting and 20 and 12 in the Feb. 26 loss.
Faried's presence was missed in Sunday's 105-90 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in which Denver's starting five shot a combined 22.4 percent (11 for 49) – the worst performance by its starters since shooting 12.2 percent against Indiana in November 2003. The Nuggets were 6 of 25 from the floor and committed five turnovers while outscored 25-12 during a pivotal third quarter.
''That third quarter killed us,'' coach Mike Malone said. “If we didn't turn the ball over, DeAndre (Jordan) blocked our shot it felt like. We just could not score.''
Rookie Emmanuel Mudiay finished 2 of 15 and is shooting 28.1 percent over the last four. Darrell Arthur, starting in Faried's place, was 2 of 13 and has shot 23.7 percent during that span.
Dallas will be counting on bounce-back performances from Dirk Nowitzki and Matthews. Nowitzki, who averaged 26.1 points over a nine-game stretch before resting in Friday's 128-120 loss at Golden State, was held to 14 on 6-of-15 shooting by Sacramento. Matthews, 19 of 33 from 3 over his last four, had 12 points after scoring 48 over the previous two.
Three of the last four meetings have been decided in overtime. The Mavericks have played a league-high 12 OT games this season.