DENVER – There are a lot easier places to snap a losing streak than the Pepsi Center.
The Nuggets are an NBA-best 140-36 (.795) on their high-altitude home court since the beginning of the 2007-08 season. They’ve won six of the last eight meetings against the Mavs in Denver.
Plus, the Nuggets have established themselves as a superstar-less threat in the Western Conference. The first four-game losing streak of the Dallas’ season is a distinct possibility, especially if the Mavs can’t figure out how to avoid repeating their recent post-halftime horror shows.
Then again, this is as good a time as any to face the Nuggets, who will be missing scoring leader Danilo Gallinari for about a month due to a severe left ankle sprain and have a few other rotation players nursing injuries. Denver has lost five of its last six games, including three in a row at home.
Records: Nuggets 15-10, Mavs 14-11
Where: Pepsi Center
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The Mavs will try to get out of a nasty offensive rut – averaging only 87.0 points during their three-game losing streak – against the NBA’s highest-scoring team. They better hope that Dirk Nowitzki’s sudden groove continues and that the guys who stepped up while the Mavs’ MVP was struggling can get going again.
Lawson, who has emerged as one of the West’s best young guards, presents a whole different set of problems for the Mavs’ combo guards, who are struggling to fill Jason Kidd's shoes. The lightning-quick Lawson is averaging 15.5 points and 6.4 assists, and he’s the primary reason the Nuggets average an NBA-best 21.2 fast break points per night. He’ll have the ball in his hands even more often with Gallinari sidelined. Lawon had 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting in the Nuggets day-after-Christmas rout in Dallas. West and Beaubois had enough on their plate anyway, struggling with the burden of orchestrating the Mavs’ out-of-sync offense while Kidd recovers from a strained right calf.
Injuries: Mavs – G Jason Kidd (right calf strain) is doubtful. Nuggets – F Danilo Gallinari (ankle) is out; C/PF Nene (heel) is questionable; C Timofey Mozgov (ankle) is out; SF Corey Brewer (personal reasons) is doubtful; SG Arron Afflalo (ankle) is probable; SG/SF Rudy Fernandez (back) is probable.
Up next: Mavs at Minnesota Timberwolves, 7 p.m., Friday.