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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, March 12th (All times eastern)

Denver Nuggets (43-21) at New Orleans Hornets (32-33), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - One slip at the controls and the Denver Nuggets will have some company atop the Northwest Division standings. They'll try to prevent that from happening tonight, when they resume a four-game road trip against the New Orleans Hornets in the Big Easy.

Denver has won four in row and sits just one game ahead of Utah in the division. The Jazz have also won four straight and will play Milwaukee Friday night at the Bradley Center.

The Nuggets are one game behind Dallas for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and opened the trek with Wednesday's 110-102 triumph at Minnesota thanks to 25 points from Chauncey Billups. It was the 19th time in the past 28 games in which Billups has scored 20-plus points. He is averaging 22.9 ppg over that stretch.

Carmelo Anthony recorded 19 points, six rebounds and five assists, and Nene contributed 17 points and nine boards for Denver, which is 15-16 away from the Rocky Mountains and will also visit the Grizzlies and Rockets on the trip. The Nuggets played without head coach George Karl, who had to take a game off for the second time this season. Karl is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy to combat throat and neck cancer.

"We know how our team does against certain teams," assistant coach Adrian Dantley said. "We got to correct that and try to come out with effort and play harder. But no matter how much George might tell them or I might tell them, we still took it easy in the first half and came through in the second half. We don't like that but it worked out for us tonight."

Denver has scored 110 points or more in each of the last four games, averaging 117.3 ppg in that time. It is 8-12 in the previous 20 road games after beginning the campaign 7-4 as the visitor.

Karl will also miss the remaining three games of the team's road trip as he continues his treatment. The Nuggets said Karl is still adjusting to the feeding tube that was inserted into his stomach during a surgical procedure on Monday.

"I have tremendous trust in A.D. and my staff," said Karl. "I think they'll keep the team in a good place over the next few days, and hopefully I'll be ready to rejoin them when they come home next week."

Denver's next home game is Tuesday, March 16 against Washington.

Meanwhile, the Hornets are running out of time on a possible postseason spot and sit six games off the eighth and final playoff berth in the West. They have dropped five of the last six games, including Wednesday's 98-83 setback at Oklahoma City.

David West netted a game-high 33 points and Marcus Thornton chipped in 11 points off the bench for New Orleans, which got eight points and nine assists from rookie Darren Collison. Collison is averaging 18.5 points, 8.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds in 27 games as a starter. He has taken over nicely for injured All-Star guard Chris Paul.

"Tonight we just didn't have enough of a response to some of the things they were doing," West said of the young Thunder. "They've got a really good group of young players. They're backcourt was strong. I think they're penetration area just beat us out front."

West is posting 30.5 points on 25-of-38 shooting in his last two games. The Hornets will try to improve its 21-11 home record tonight before opening a five-game road trip on Sunday. On the injury front forward James Posey (illness) is questionable for Friday's game.

The 2009-10 series between Denver and New Orleans is tied at a game apiece, with each team holding ground as the host. These two teams have split the past 26 matchups.

03/12 13:41:21 ET


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