The Denver Nuggets are skidding hard, and things might get worse. Denver, who just last week sat in the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference, has lost three straight after falling to the Houston Rockets 99-90 at home on Monday. More importantly, they may have lost the team's best player -- small forward Danilo Gallinari -- as the Italian wing rolled his ankle during the third quarter of Monday's loss. X-rays revealed a chip fracture in his foot, reports the Denver Post.
Houston had a strong defensive performance against the uber-efficient Nuggets, holding Denver to 43.6 percent shooting from the floor and just a 3-22 tally from beyond the arc. Denver was without Nene, Arron Afflalo and Timofey Mozgov; rookies Julyan Stone and Kenneth Faried started the game to allow George Karl to preserve his rotation.
Luis Scola and Kyle Lowry provided the offense for the Rockets as Kevin Martin struggled (1-9). Scola racked up 25 points on 10-20 shooting, while Lowry rung up 20 on efficient 7-11 shooting, including 5-6 makes from downtown.
The Nuggets (15-10) are now just one game ahead of the Rockets (14-11) in the standings.
In other action:
Suns 99, Hawks 90: Atlanta had held on without Al Horford so well, but that may be falling apart. This is the third straight loss for the Hawks, as their defense imploded in allowing Phoenix to hit 11-24 from long-range and shoot 51.9 percent overall.
Spurs 89, Grizzlies 84: San Antonio began its annual rodeo trip in style, blasting back to win the fourth quarter 22-11 and taking the win in Memphis. Tony Parker had 21 points, seven assists and three steals.
Bulls 108, Nets 87: Chicago is locked in. Derrick Rose played 10 minutes due to back spasms, so Luol Deng (19 points) and Carlos Boozer (24) picked up the scoring load. Deron Williams did have 25 points for New Jersey.
Kings 100, Hornets 92: Sacramento let awful New Orleans drop 29 in the first quarter and trailed by 18 in the second quarter, but rode DeMarcus Cousins (28 points, 19 rebounds) and Isaiah Thomas (14 points in the second half) to a comeback victory. That's the Kings' third straight win.
Wizards 111, Raptors 108: In the overtime thriller of the night, the juggernaut Wizards pulled out an amazing come-from-behind-but-only-after-they-had-been-well-ahead victory. The Raptors battled back from an 18-point deficit like the warriors they are to take a 101-100 on a Linas Kleiza three-pointer with a minute left. But John Wall denied Toronto its victory, and overtime would settle the matter. The brilliance would continue, but on the defensive end as the teams combined to shoot 1-14 -- yes, 1-14 -- in extra time. Washington had the make, and took the hard-earned win.