Nuggets-Pacers Preview

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 NBA.com. “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.