The Denver Nuggets found something that works when Kenneth Faried was put into the starting lineup.
Unfortunately, the results are mixed.
Faried has been a beast since the move, averaging 12 rebounds in four games, but Denver continues to struggle for wins. The Nuggets have lost three of their last four, including two at home while searching for consistency.
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They get another chance Sunday when the Utah Jazz are in town. The Jazz are coming off a 111-102 loss to Houston on Saturday.
The Nuggets, who are 1-4 at home this season, need to start establishing a home dominance if they want to take a serious run at the playoffs. Two of their losses at Pepsi Center came in overtime, including Friday night's 113-111 setback to Toronto.
Denver had chances to put that one away but faltered down the stretch in the fourth quarter and again in overtime.
“It's encouraging to a point but these are games we have to win,” Nuggers coach Michael Malone said. “Yes, we are undermanned and have some injuries but no excuses. We had enough bodies on the floor to get the job done.”
The Nuggets (4-8) are thin in the backcourt because of injuries to Gary Harris (foot) and Will Barton (ankle). Harris is a few weeks away and Barton's return is still unknown.
Malone has started his two point guards the last two games and brought rookie Jamal Murray first off the bench. He used forward Wilson Chandler at shooting guard in spots Friday.
The Jazz (7-7) are dealing with their own injuries. Forward Boris Diaw missed Saturday's game in Houston, center Derrick Favors is nursing a knee contusion and Gordon Hayward is still dealing with the effects of a broken finger suffered in the preseason.
Like Denver, the Jazz are not using injuries as a crutch.
“We can't make any excuses because guys go down in the NBA,” Hayward told The Salt Lake Tribune. “That's kind of how it works. So we have to be professionals and figure it out in practice, figure it out in the games. That's just something we have to do.”
Utah's offense has struggled since scoring 100 points in back-to-back road games against New York and Philadelphia two weeks ago. The Jazz managed just 77 points in a home loss to Chicago on Thursday before falling to the Rockets on Saturday.
It was their third straight loss and dropped them to .500 after a 6-2 start. The offense did find some spark in the loss, but it wasn't enough against the James Harden-led Rockets.
Hayward struggled from the field Saturday, going 4-for-13. Rodney Hood led Utah with 25 and Trey Lyles had 21
The Jazz hope to get well in Denver.
“I think we're doing well at moving the ball and finding open shots,” guard Dante Exum told The Salt Lake Tribune. “It just comes down to hitting the shots that we get. The group is still getting connected. We're just going to get better every game and continue to work on the shots. They'll fall.”