Nuggets on rare four-game losing streak after falling to Mavs
Denver's slide is longest since 2006-07 season
To find the last time the Nuggets lost four games in a row, you’d have to go back to the Bush Administration.
Five years later, Denver could certainly use a W.
Facing the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, the Nuggets fell behind by 17 points in the first half and never quite recovered in a 105-95 loss at Pepsi Center on Wednesday night.
It was Denver’s fourth straight defeat, snapping a stretch of 392 regular-season games without losing more than three in a row. That string of consistency began after four consecutive losses from Feb. 14-24, 2007.
“We’re all positive guys,” point guard Ty Lawson said. “Four games, it happens. For us, it hasn’t happened in a couple of years, but it happens. We’re going to regroup.”
In a compressed NBA season, redemption is rarely more than 48 hours away. For the Nuggets, it will be less than 24 hours away as they play the second of back-to-back home games Thursday against the Golden State Warriors.
Golden State (8-14) is one of two sub-.500 teams the Nuggets face in the midst of a difficult 19-game stretch from Jan. 29 to March 4.
“I’m exasperated for losing,” Denver coach George Karl said. “The weight of losing is definitely in our locker room. We have another shot to break that (Thursday) and get the bubble off our back, get the monster, the gorilla off our back. We just have to continue to stay positive from the standpoint of getting better.”
The Nuggets (15-11) also lost their fourth straight home game, something that hasn’t happened since near the end of the 2002-03 season – a year in which they lost 65 games. Denver dropped to 7-6 at home; the team hasn’t lost more than eight home games since 2006-07.
“The power of the home court, we’ve got to figure that out,” Karl said. “We’ve got to get that going.”
Searching for what he called “winning karma,” Karl wore a Real Madrid soccer jersey at shootaround Wednesday and tinkered with his starting lineup.
Starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo and power forward Nene returned after sitting out Monday’s loss to Houston with foot injuries. With starting forward Danilo Gallinari sidelined by a sprained ankle, Chris Andersen started for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Despite the changes, Denver struggled defensively, giving up a season-high 64 points in the first half and trailed at the break for the fourth straight game.
“When you’re fragile a little bit, you have to fight and believe for confidence in the game,” Karl said. “The beginning of the game, our aggressiveness was very ordinary. This building, we need it to be intimidating. We haven’t intimidated in the first quarter very much.”
Denver’s defense improved in the second half as Dallas managed to score only 41 points. The Nuggets, however, scored just 42 points and could never get closer than seven in the fourth quarter.
“We have to be positive,” reserve guard Rudy Fernandez said. “In the second half, we’re down by eight and the faces are like we’re down by 20. We have to fight for 48 minutes.”
Fernandez and Al Harrington provided plenty of scoring off the bench, finishing with 17 points apiece. Lawson added 16 points and 10 assists but finished 5-for-16 from the field. Nene also had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 25 points, while Vince Carter added 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds. The Mavericks ended their own three-game losing streak and beat the Nuggets for the first time in the past five meetings.
“This is a much-needed win,” Nowitzki said. “We did a nice job scrambling and really fighting for each other, playing defense, trying to keep them out of the lane and not let them get in transition. I like some of the stuff we did.”
It was a different story across the hallway as the Nuggets tried to figure out how to emerge from their funk.
Harrington knows the answer could be as simple as one W.
“We’re 48 minutes away,” he said.
Notes: Before the game, the Nuggets honored members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military pilots … Denver dropped to 7-11 against Western Conference teams and 4-8 when scoring less than 100 points … The Nuggets made 9 of 26 three-pointers, an improvement from the previous three games in which they went 13-for-67 (.194) … Karl said he exchanged text messages Tuesday with former Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups, who is now with the Los Angeles Clippers. Billups is out for the season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon on Monday. “I wish him the best,” Karl said. “I hope he stays strong. I think his goal is to get back.”