The Denver Nuggets haven't backed down from a challenge this season and could catch a break when they return home for Thursday's showdown against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Pepsi Center.
The Nuggets will put their season-high 13-game winning streak on the line versus the Sixers and have also won 15 in a row at home. Denver, which hasn't lost at home since Jan. 18 versus Washington, handled the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night in a 114-104 road triumph.
The third-highest scoring team in the league, the Nuggets shut down practically the entire Thunder squad minus Kevin Durant (34 points) and Russell Westbrook (25 points). That duo is tough to stop regardless, but the Nuggets weren't about to let two guys halt their streak -- the longest since the team ended its affiliation with the ABA.
"Thirteen wins, that's a good run," Nuggets coach George Karl remarked. "I don't want to get too happy because we still have a job to do to try and get home court advantage in the first round, but boy these guys are a lot of fun to coach."
Denver, which had 72 points in the paint, is battling a few teams for homecourt advantage in the opening round of the playoffs and was led by Ty Lawson's 25 points. Andre Miller shook off some cobwebs to post 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and Kenneth Faried added a double-double of 13 points and 15 rebounds. Denver pulled within three games of idle Oklahoma City for the Northwest Division lead and second seed in the West after taking the final three games of the season series. The Thunder lost Wednesday at Memphis.
The Nuggets, who put the Thunder on their heels with a 15-4 to start the third quarter and allowed just 38 points in the second half, are riding their longest winning streak since a 15-game run in the 1969-70 campaign. The 13 straight wins is the third-longest in the NBA this season, behind Miami's current 24-game run and the Los Angeles Clippers' 17-game streak.
Denver, owners of a 23-4 mark in the past 27 games, is even with Memphis and the Clippers for third in the Western Conference standings and owns a 30-3 record at home this season. The Sacramento Kings are scheduled to visit the Rocky Mountains Saturday night.
In injury news for the surging Nuggets, who average 106.1 ppg and allow 101.1 ppg, Lawson is probable after tweaking his Achilles against the Thunder and Wilson Chandler is doubtful after leaving the recent win with a separated shoulder.
Philadelphia's road woes continued in Wednesday's 101-72 setback at the hands of the Clippers in the opener of a four-game road trip.
The Sixers have lost 14 straight road games and haven't won outside of Philly since New Year's Day against the Lakers. The Lakers' Staples Center co- tenants, the Clippers, shot 52.6 percent for the game and scored 24 points off of 20 76ers' turnovers.
Spencer Hawes led Philadelphia with 16 points and Thaddeus Young contributed 13 for the Sixers, who fell to 6-24 as the visitor and had a modest two-game winning streak come to an end. The 76ers are only 4-14 in the past 18 contests.
"Their defense was tremendous. They did a good job of trapping Jrue," Sixers head coach Doug Collins said.
Holiday, the Sixers' All-Star guard, had two points, six rebounds and four assists. Evan Turner had 12 points in the loss.
Philadelphia's 14-game road slide is the longest during a season since a 20- game drought back in 1987-88. It will also visit Sacramento and Utah on the western junket. The Sixers hope to keep up with Denver's up-tempo offense, and the Nuggets lead the league in fastbreak points per game (19.8).
The 76ers kicked off the 2012-13 campaign with an 84-75 victory over Andre Iguodala and the Nuggets on Oct. 31 at Wells Fargo Center. Iguodala was traded to the Nuggets in the offseason in the deal that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers and Andrew Bynum to south Philly. Bynum, of course, did not play a second this season and is slated to undergo surgery on both knees.
Philadelphia has won two straight and four of its last six at Denver. The Nuggets are 11-2 at home against the East this season.