There was a time the Denver Nuggets might have been relieved to have a stretch of five games against Eastern Conference opponents, but things have gone so far south that no game is being penciled in as a win.
Especially on the road.
Denver's five-game trip against the East continues Wednesday night with a visit to the Orlando Magic, and Nuggets coach Brian Shaw is urging his players to change their mindset.
"We have to learn to respect everyone, whether he's a starter or coming off the bench," Shaw said after his team lost 105-98 Monday in Charlotte.
Denver (27-36) has lost eight of nine on the road and been outscored by 16.0 points per game in those contests. It also has dropped six of seven against the East, including the first two games of this trip.
Shaw saw an overall effort indicative of the result against the Bobcats.
"We didn't seem to get engaged in the game until the end when we were trying to scramble and come back," Shaw told the team's official website. "The game was in the balance all night long and we couldn't seem to get over the hump. They made the plays that they need to make down the stretch and we didn't."
Ty Lawson scored a team-high 24 while Aaron Brooks had 16 and Kenneth Faried added 15. Faried went 7 of 10 from the field and is averaging 21.2 points on 69.8 percent shooting with 10.4 rebounds in his last five games.
At 3-13 since Feb. 7, the Nuggets have firmly positioned themselves in the bottom five of the West after entering that stretch with playoff aspirations.
The Magic (19-46), one of three teams still without 20 wins, haven't had to worry about that illusion for quite some time. Monday's 105-98 loss in Milwaukee was their third straight as they blew an 18-point lead.
"NBA games are extremely long and an 18-point lead in the first half doesn't mean a lot," Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn said.
Maurice Harkless led seven Magic players in double figures with 14 points. He's started eight straight games and is averaging 14.3 points in his last seven.
Rookie Victor Oladipo, who had missed the past two games with a sore foot, scored 12 points in 19 minutes.
"I felt like I was kind of slow with my reaction time because I haven't played in a while. Still no excuse," said Oladipo, who managed to go 5 of 6 from the floor. "I feel like I let my team down a little bit today but I've just got to keep growing and getting better."
Orlando went 5 of 8 from the free-throw line, season lows in makes and attempts. It fell to 1-9 when attempting 15 or fewer.
The Nuggets beat Orlando 120-94 on Jan. 11 in Denver, their second straight win in the series and fourth in five tries. The 26-point victory was their second-largest of the season as seven Denver players had 13 points or more.
Randy Foye and Evan Fournier each scored 18 while Orlando got 22 points from Tobias Harris and 20 from Glen Davis.
The Magic are 4-19 against the West.
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