The particulars ...
Denver: 20-12 (13-2 at home, 7-10 on the road)
Utah: 18-14 (12-4 at home, 6-10 on the road)
Denver: Chauncey Billups (groin) and Carmelo Anthony (knee) are both out.
Utah: Kyle Korver (knee) is a game time decision.
The Nuggets are on a three game losing streak and will be shorthanded tonight. George Karl is going to be forced to open up the rotation a little bit with either Joey Graham or Renaldo Balkman filling in for Melo, but not having the high scoring forward is going to prove to be a difficult challenge for Denver.
The Nuggets haven't seen the Jazz since beating Utah to open the season 114-105. Ty Lawson proved to be the difference off the Nuggets bench scoring 17 points in his NBA debut. The Nuggets were without J.R. Smith (suspension) and found a way to win the game, but since then the Nuggets have had a difficult time (to say the least) winning games without a healthy lineup.
The Jazz, like Denver, are a very good team at home. Winning in Utah is always tough and the Nuggets have to find a way to replace a lot of points. Last season the Nuggets seemed to thrive with their backs against the wall, but replicating that sense of urgency hasn't really been discovered yet this year. Who is going to step up for the Nuggets tonight and carry the team? Nene would be a likely candidate and plays well against Mehmet Okur. The Brazilian has to stay out of foul trouble and should be leaned on heavily on the offensive end.
Sometimes it's good to see teams play without their stars to see how they react, but I'm ready to see the Nuggets get healthy and back to their winning ways. While Denver doesn't have health on their side right now, winning can go a long way towards acting like a band-aid.
Photo courtesy of AP Photos Colin Braley