Margin for error slim as Nuggets try to end slide

Denver faces another test as Miami Heat come to Pepsi Center
by Aaron Lopez

First-year coach Brian Shaw has been saying it all year long: The Denver Nuggets have the slimmest margin for error.

Playing without starting forward Danilo Gallinari and starting center JaVale McGee, the Nuggets must pay close attention to detail, stay fundamentally sound and give maximum effort every night to win on a consistent basis.

A six-game losing streak has illustrated those points in painful fashion.

As the calendar year comes to a close, the Nuggets (14-15) will try to end their longest slide in nine years when the two-time defending world champion Miami Heat visit Pepsi Center on Monday night.

Denver allowing 65 second-half points and surrendered 19 offensive rebounds against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

“There are a lot of things that we can take away from this game and the five games before that,” Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler said. “If we want to win, we have to play harder. That's what it all comes down to."

The Grizzlies trailed by one at halftime but led by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter. Memphis shot .516 from the field en route to a season-high 120 points.

“It was a thorough whipping all the way through,” Shaw said. “You have to give them credit. They played hard. They made shots. Every single time that they got an offensive rebound, they turned it into a three or at least a bucket on their end. That breaks your back.”

Since going 4-2 on a six-game trip, the Nuggets have lost seven of eight, including three in a row at home.

The task doesn’t get any easier with LeBron James and the Heat making their lone Pepsi Center appearance of the season.

With James out with a groin injury, Miami got 37 points and a game-winning 3-pointer from Chris Bosh in a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday. The Heat did not practice Sunday, and James is listed as day-to-day.

Even without James, the Heat present a formidable challenge, particularly for a team struggling to win games.

“We have to do something,” Chandler said. “We have to get our minds right because we have good team coming in Monday."


WHEN: 7 p.m. MT
WHERE: Pepsi Center, Denver
TV; RADIO: Altitude; AM-950

DENVER (14-15)

F Wilson Chandler
F J.J. Hickson
C Timofey Mozgov
G Jordan Hamilton
G Ty Lawson

MIAMI (23-7)
F LeBron James
F Shane Battier
C Chris Bosh
G Dwyane Wade
G Mario Chalmers

Kenneth Faried (sprained ankle) is probable; Darrell Arthur (bruised quad) is a game-time decision; Danilo Gallinari (knee) and JaVale McGee (fractured left tibia) are out.
MIAMI: James (strained groin), Ray Allen (right knee tendinitis) and Chris Andersen (sore back) are day-to-day; Greg Oden (knee rehabilitation) is out.

The Nuggets owned a 10-game home winning streak against the Heat at Pepsi Center since 2002-03 before losing at home last season . . . The last time Miami had won a game in Denver prior to 11/15/12 was on 1/29/02 (100-94 in overtime). Every NBA opponent other than the Heat had won at least once at Pepsi Center during that stretch . . . Denver has won 11 of the last 15 overall meetings with Miami, dating to the 2004-05 season, as well as 15 of the last 21 since 2002-03 . . . Nuggets great Alex English scored 51 points at Miami on 3/10/89, which remains tied for the most points scored by an individual Heat opponent in the city of Miami (New Jersey’s Vince Carter also scored 51 at Miami on 12/23/05). English’s 24 field goals also still stand as a Miami record for an individual opponent . . . Only two Miami Heat players have ever scored 40+ points against the Nuggets: Chris Bosh on 11/3/12 in Miami (40) and Sherman Douglas on 12/27/90 in Denver (42).