Warriors-Nuggets Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 09, 2012
A slew of absences are taking a toll on the Denver Nuggets. The Golden State Warriors' struggles are due to other issues. The Nuggets look to avoid their longest slide in over five years by continuing their dominance of the Warriors on Thursday night at Pepsi Center. Denver (15-11) has been dealing with a rash of injuries and is without swingman Corey Brewer, who took a leave of absence to be with his family this week following the death of his father. The Nuggets won't have starting forward Danilo Gallinari (left ankle) - the team leader with 17.0 points per game - for a month. It's unclear if center Timofey Mozgov is ready to return from a left ankle injury. They did get Aaron Afflalo and Nene back from injury Wednesday, but struggled again in a 105-95 defeat to Dallas, its fourth straight loss. The Nuggets last dropped five in a row from Dec. 29, 2006-Jan. 6, 2007. "I just think it's the process of the season," coach George Karl said. "We're banged up." Denver leads the NBA with 103.7 points per game, but the club is averaging 92.8 during this slide as Karl's up-tempo scheme is being hampered by the absences. "But it's no excuse," said reserve guard Rudy Fernandez, who had 17 points Wednesday. "We have a lot of young talent and a lot of players with experience. We have a long bench and at this moment with the injuries, we have to find a way to play better and more aggressively." The Nuggets will likely need another group effort against Golden State (8-14). That's just what they got in the most recent meeting April 11, as nine players scored in double figures en route to a 134-111 win. Denver has won 10 of the last 12 meetings with the Warriors, including six in a row at home while averaging 127.2 points. Golden State is having defensive issues during a 3-6 stretch, surrendering an average of 102.8 points. That continued with Tuesday's 119-116 loss to Oklahoma City, which followed a 114-106 overtime defeat at Sacramento three days prior. "We have to break that cycle," guard Monta Ellis said. "The games we should win, we've got to start winning. And the games like this, we should go out and compete and give ourselves a chance to win." Ellis is likely to have a major say in that. He leads the Warriors with 22.6 points per game and is coming off a brilliant performance, scoring a career-high 48 points on 18 of 29 from the field - 3 for 6 from 3-point range - against the Thunder. Ellis has averaged 30.0 points in his last five games against Denver, but missed the last game there due to a concussion. David Lee recorded his second career triple-double Tuesday, with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He is averaging 18.7 points, 10.0 boards and 2.5 assists this season, but has been limited to 12.0 points in six career visits to Denver.
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