After rallying to win on one side of the East River, the Denver Nuggets can match their best win streak of the season by earning a Big Apple sweep on the other.
The Nuggets continue their three-game trip heading into the All-Star break with a visit to Barclays Center to face the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night.
Denver (21-31) has gone on a minor surge since the end of January and won its second straight and fourth in six games with Sunday's 101-96 victory over the New York Knicks.
Emmanuel Mudiay recovered from an ugly start to his first game at Madison Square Garden with nine of his 15 points coming during a 11-2 fourth-quarter spurt that put the Nuggets in control. Mudiay shot just 2 for 12 through three quarters before taking over, and in spite of his shooting woes, he took great care of the ball.
“I thought Emmanuel Mudiay was terrific,” coach Michael Malone said. “Made some huge plays for us down the stretch. Nine assists, zero turnovers, for a 19-year-old rookie point guard is outstanding.”
The complete lack of turnovers was a first for Mudiay, who has a 1.64 assist-to-turnover ratio and averages 3.6 giveaways. His only other crisp game with at least nine assists was when he had 11 with just one turnover in a win against Milwaukee on Nov. 11.
Former Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari and Will Barton each had 19 points to lead Denver, which is in position for its third three-game streak of the season and first back-to-back away wins since a three-game streak Dec. 3-15.
The victory came two days after Denver rallied from a 16-point hole by outscoring Chicago 42-21 in the fourth quarter of a 115-110 home win. The Nuggets had only a 24-17 edge in the quarter this time, but they held the Knicks scoreless for nearly 5 minutes.
To stay on track, the Nuggets will have to end a three-game skid against the Nets (13-39), who have won two of those games by 23 points or more – both in Denver. The only close matchup was a 102-96 loss during the previous visit to Barclays on Dec. 23, 2014.
Denver has averaged 89 points during its skid against Brooklyn, but the Nuggets have put up 105.2 in their last six games, while the Nets have given up roughly the same amount (105.6) during a 1-6 stretch.
Brooklyn had its best offensive game of the season with a 128-119 home win over Sacramento on Friday, but facing the only team below it in the Eastern Conference the next night wasn't enough to earn consecutive wins for the first time in two months.
The Nets followed an 18-of-28 performance from 3-point range against the Kings by missing 10 of 15 from beyond the arc in Saturday's 103-98 loss at Philadelphia.
The dropoff mirrored that of Joe Johnson, who was 11 of 16 with five 3s and 27 points against Sacramento but just 2 of 8 with nine versus the 76ers.
“When you get consistent how you play, then we'll start turning these games into wins,” said interim coach Tony Brown, whose team trailed by as many as 15 in the first half but was down 69-64 entering the fourth. “I commend them for getting back in it, but obviously there's still a lot of work we have to do.”