The Denver Nuggets aided their chances of making the playoffs at the beginning of April by taking advantage of Dwight Howard's absence from the Orlando Magic lineup.
Even with a postseason berth wrapped up, don't expect the Nuggets to go easy on the Howard-less Magic during Sunday night's rematch at the Pepsi Center.
Denver (35-28) matched a franchise record by clinching a ninth consecutive playoff berth with Saturday's 118-107 win in Phoenix. The Nuggets made nine straight postseasons from 1981-82 to 1989-90.
Ty Lawson had 29 points and 10 assists during his team's eighth victory in 12 games, a stretch that includes a 104-101 win over Orlando on April 1.
Howard missed that game with back spasms and is now out for the year after having surgery to repair a herniated disc and remove fragments Friday.
"I think we've been operating with the expectation that we wouldn't have him back," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I don't think this was unexpected."
The Magic (36-27) are 3-6 without...