(SportsNetwork.com) - George Karl returns to a familiar place Sunday when his Sacramento Kings invade the Pepsi Center to take on the Denver Nuggets in a battle of two lottery-bound Western Conference teams.
Karl coached the Nuggets from 2005-2013, leading the team to nine playoff appearances. He won Coach of the Year for the 2012-13 season, but was fired during that summer.
After time away, Karl accepted the Kings head coaching position and has endured growing pains, going 9-19 since taking the helm during the All-Star break.
Since the Nuggets hired and fired Brian Shaw. Melvin Hunt is serving as interim head coach.
Karl's Kings have dropped two straight and seven of their last eight. Sacramento has lost five in a row as the visitor and close out a three-game road trip Sunday.
On Friday, the Kings fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 116-103, at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Kings played without DeMarcus Cousins (foot) and Rudy Gay (concussion) and will for the remainder of the season. They were led by Ben McLemore's 20 points. They have dropped 13 straight in Oklahoma City.
"I was proud of the effort and energy," Karl said. "We could have found a way to win if some things would have fallen better for us."
Ray McCallum and Derrick Williams both scored 17 points for the Kings, while Jason Thompson pulled down a game-best 14 rebounds.
The Kings finish the 2014-15 campaign with a home-and-home series against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Nuggets have lost five of their last six, including two of three at home.
On Friday, Denver dropped a heart-breaker, 144-143, at home to the Dallas Mavericks in double-overtime.
Raymond Felton's layup with 1.5 seconds left was the difference for the Mavs. Dallas nearly squandered a 21-point halftime lead.
Danilo Gallinari exploded for a career-best 47 points in the losing effort.
"Could've been more fun if we had won," Gallinari said of his career high.
Gallinari was the driving force behind the Nuggets' second-half comeback, pouring in 21 second-half points and dropping in 17 more over the two overtime periods. The sharpshooter was 15-of-23 overall from the floor, hit 7-of-12 attempts from 3-point range and a perfect 10-of-10 from the foul line.
Wilson Chandler finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds in the loss, with Ty Lawson amassing 19 points and a career-high 18 assists for Denver.
The Nuggets reached the 50-loss mark in a season for the first time since 2002-03. Sunday will mark their home finale as they finish the season with road contests versus the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors.
The Kings have won two of three meetings this season and two straight in the Mile High City.