Shooting Woes

After back-to-back nights of poor shooting, the Denver Nuggets try to snap out of their offensive funk as they visit the struggling Houston Rockets on Saturday.

Denver (9-4) has shot below 40 percent from the field its last two games, including a 101-90 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday - ending a six-game winning streak - and a 99-93 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Houston -5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 200.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 80% of bets for this game have been placed on Houston -5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

After shooting 39.1 percent from the field versus the Clippers, the Nuggets shot just 38 percent against the Timberwolves, going 3-of-14 from 3-point range.

"It was an ugly shooting game," said Carmelo Anthony. "It was an ugly win today. But it was a grinding win."

Anthony had 31 points on Friday despite 10 of 22 shooting, and is averaging 25.8 points overall. Both he and guard Allen Iverson (24.0 ppg) are among the top 10 scorers in the league.

They helped the Nuggets average 115 points on 50.3 percent shooting during the winning streak, with Anthony scoring 26.8 points per game during that stretch. But their lackluster effort on Friday nearly cost them a victory until a game-breaking 10-0 run in the final three minutes.

"There's no gimmes in this league," said Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin, who had a season-high 18 points after going scoreless on Wednesday. "Everybody comes to play every night."

The Rockets (6-7) may be the perfect opponent for the Nuggets as Houston is trying to end a six-game losing streak that has wiped out its 6-1 start. Yao Ming and Luis Scola each scored 20 points and Tracy McGrady added 19 and 10 rebounds in a 98-91 loss to the Miami Heat on Friday, but Houston allowed Miami to shoot 55.4 percent and hurt its cause by missing eight free throws.

"It's an execution problem we're having right now closing out games," McGrady said. "Whether it's defensive execution or offense ... we're just doing a bad job of executing."

McGrady averaged 27.3 points in the fast start before suffering an elbow injury that caused him to miss two games. He has averaged 19.0 points in two games since his return, but shot just 33.3 percent (13-for-39) and also missed five of the eight free throws in Friday's defeat.

With opponents able to minimize McGrady, coach Rick Adelman said someone has to step up for the Rockets.

"They're taking the ball out of Tracy's hands and we've got to make plays," he said.

Yao is averaging 22.5 points but shooting 51.0 percent, his lowest since converting 49.8 percent of his shots in his 2002-03 rookie season.

The Rockets are mired in their worst losing streak since a seven-game skid from Jan. 6-18, 2006.

Houston won two of three games against Denver last season, but the Nuggets won the lone game in Houston as Iverson totaled 36 points and 10 assists.

The Rockets have won four of the last five games between the teams and 12 of 18 since Yao entered the league.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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