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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, March 15th (All times eastern)

Denver Nuggets (45-21) at Houston Rockets (33-31), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Denver Nuggets continue their push toward the postseason without head coach George Karl tonight against a desperate Houston Rockets team.

The Nuggets have played without Karl, who is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy to combat throat and neck cancer, for the third straight game on Saturday against Memphis as the coach continues treatment. The veteran mentor is still adjusting to the feeding tube that was inserted into his stomach during a surgical procedure last Monday.

Denver has won six in row and is 3-0 on its current trip but sits just one- half game ahead of Dallas for the No. 2 spot in the competitive Western Conference.

The Nuggets, who are being piloted by lead assistant Adrian Dantley on their trek, last swept a four-game road trip in April of 2005. Meanwhile, the team is aiming to sweep the season series against the Rockets tonight for the first time since the 1977-78 season.

J.R. Smith scored 16 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter on Saturday, as the Nuggets used a huge final period to defeat the Grizzlies, 125-108. Smith made 11-of-16 field goals, including a 7-for-10 performance from beyond the arc.

"I got it going, but the most important thing was that we got it going as a team," Smith said. "We got out in the open court, (and we got some easy shots)."

Carmelo Anthony donated 24 points and six rebounds, while Chauncey Billups ended with 22 points. Nene donated 13 for the Nuggets, who outscored Memphis, 40-23, in the fourth.

The Rockets dumped hapless New Jersey on Saturday when Luis Scola poured in a career-high 44 points on 20-of-25 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds, as Houston got past the Nets, 116-108, at the Toyota Center.

Scola topped his previous career-high of 30 for the Rockets, who have won three of their last four games but are a distant 5 1/2 games behind Portland for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

Kevin Martin chipped in with 20 and Aaron Brooks posted 18 and seven assists as Houston has now won eight straight against the Nets.

"It's a game obviously we really needed to get," said Rockets coach Rick Adelman. "People look at their (Nets) record and think it should be an easy win, but they have a very good center and a very good point guard. They seem to have a feel for how they want to play. I'm just glad to get this win."

03/15 10:42:00 ET


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