Nuggets-Rockets Preview

The Denver Nuggets last swept a road trip of at least four games

five seasons ago.

The Nuggets can accomplish that feat again and extend their win

streak to seven Monday night as they go for their first season

sweep of the Houston Rockets in 32 years.

Denver (45-21) owns the longest current win streak in the

Western Conference and is one-half game ahead of Dallas in the race

for the No. 2 seed. The Nuggets are three games behind the Los

Angeles Lakers.

With Adrian Dantley filling in as coach while George Karl

undergoes cancer treatments, Denver has trailed at halftime in

every game of this trip. The Nuggets’ latest rally featured one of

their best fourth quarters of the season.

Denver was down six at the half and tied after three periods

Saturday, but scored 40 points in the fourth and won 125-108 at

Memphis. Reserve J.R. Smith had 16 of his 30 in the final period,

which the Nuggets opened on a 12-0 run.

“It was unbelievable,” Smith said. “It was a great beginning to

the fourth quarter. I think it was the best we’ve had all year by


Four other reserves combined for 27 points, and backup point

guard Anthony Carter added seven assists in less than 17


“It was fun to watch,” point guard Chauncey Billups said.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Anthony Carter. He came off

the bench and was huge. Huge. The way he pushed the ball and found


The Nuggets last swept a four-game trip April 2-8, 2005. Smith

averaged 21.5 points as Denver won the first two matchups of the

season with the Rockets (33-31), whom the Nuggets have not swept

since going 3-0 in 1977-78.

Carmelo Anthony missed Denver’s last two visits to Houston,

where he has had his share of problems. His 19.2 scoring average at

Toyota Center is his worst in any arena and his 38.8 field-goal

percentage is his second worst.

Anthony, averaging 28.5 points, has scored at least 30 in four

games during this win streak and should face a tough defensive

matchup against Trevor Ariza on Monday. Rockets forward Shane

Battier came off the bench for the first time in a 116-108 home win

over New Jersey on Saturday, with Ariza re-joining the lineup.

Ariza will likely defend Anthony to start Monday’s game.

“Shane has told me from forever that he’ll come off the bench,”

coach Rick Adelman said. “I told him I’d try it, but I don’t know

if that’s better for our team. It changes Trevor’s role somewhat

because now he’s got to guard the toughest guy out there at the

start of the game.”

The Rockets have won three of four, getting the best performance

of Luis Scola’s career their last time out. Scola scored 44 points

on 20-of-25 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds against the Nets.

“It was one of those nights where you’re feeling good, but then

everything you try, works,” Scola said. “I’m probably as surprised

as you are.”