LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Head Coach George Karl of the Denver Nuggets watches the game against the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on February 22, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers won 103-95. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

2012 NBA Playoff Race: Nuggets Trying To Claw Back Into West Bracket

The Denver Nuggets need to play well in the second half of the season to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.

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2012 NBA Playoffs Race: Nuggets In Fierce Fight For A Spot Out West

The 2012 NBA playoffs are still a few months away, but with the All-Star Break over the Denver Nuggets are focused on trying to get every next win and secure a spot in the Western Conference bracket. The Nuggets join the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz as quality teams chasing the current No. 8 seed Portland Trail Blazers and No. 7 seed Memphis Grizzlies for those final places in the playoff picture. After storming out to an impressive 15-7 record to start the season, Denver suffered injuries to Nene, Ty Lawson and Danilo Gallinari, and slowly faded to an 18-17 mark at the break. The second half will have to be much more consistent if they hope to land a spot in the postseason tournament.

SB Nation's Tom Ziller broke down the Western Conference race on Tuesday, and created some measure of strength of schedule going down the stretch. Games against the Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and any road games against Western Conference teams currently in the playoffs are referred to as "AAAHH games." Home games against teams in the West race are called "UMMM games." Road games against the No. 3 through No. 7 seeds in the East (Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, Orlando Magic and New York Knicks) are "YEESH games." All remaining contests are "YEAH games." Here is what Ziller had to say about the Nuggets:

DENVER NUGGETS

Current record: 18-17
Games behind No. 8: 0.5

AAAHH games remaining: 10
UMMM games remaining: 6
YEESH games remaining: 1
YEAH games remaining: 14

Denver is now in the No. 9 spot, but a favorable schedule should give the Nuggets an advantage over the Blazers. Health for Nene, Danilo Gallinari and Ty Lawson would help even more, and a re-signed Wilson Chandler would be nice.

For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver. For more in-depth coverage, visit Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs. Head over to SB Nation NBA for more news and notes from around the league.

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Nuggets Schedule 2012: Denver Starts 2nd Half Of Season Against Portland

Thanks to a rough stretch prior to the All-Star break, the pressure is beginning to mount on the Denver Nuggets, who have slipped to ninth place in the Western Conference. The Nuggets are just 3-7 over their last 10 games, but they can turn the page starting Wednesday when they host Portland, which happens to be the team directly ahead of them in the conference standings.

Related: Kiszla: Karl to blame for Nuggets' swoon?

The full Denver Nuggets schedule can be seen here, and this is the week ahead:

Wednesday, Feb. 29: vs. Portland Trail Blazers (7:00 p.m. MT, Altitude)
LaMarcus Aldridge leads Portland in scoring with 22.3 points per game and had 29 points on 13-18 shooting the last time these teams met, which was a 20-point Trail Blazers win.

Friday, March 2: at Houston Rockets (6:00 p.m. MT, Altitude)
The Rockets represent another good opportunity for Denver, as they're just 2.5 games ahead of the Nuggets in the conference standings. Kevin Martin leads the team in scoring with 18.0 points per game.

For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver. For more in-depth coverage, visit Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs. Head over to SB Nation NBA for more news and notes from around the league.

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Spurs Vs. Nuggets Final Score: Denver Loses 114-99 After Falling Behind Early

The Denver Nuggets played much better in the second half, but it was all for naught in a 114-99 defeat against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night. After being down 26 points at halftime due to a brutal all-around performance, Denver bounced back to outscore San Antonio 60-49 in the final 24 minutes, but it obviously wasn't enough.

In the end, it was just too little too late for a Nuggets team that couldn't find its offense early. With the Spurs doing cartwheels around the Nuggets' defenders, it wasn't hard for San Antonio to build up a sizable lead. And even as the Spurs' shots stopped falling as frequently later in the game, they had enough breathing room to stave off a Nuggets team that was increasingly finding its way.

Corey Brewer played extremely well in the second half to lead the Nuggets with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting. Andre Miller also played well, adding 20 points and seven assists, while Arron Afflalo struggled early with his shot but still finished with 19 points. DeJuan Blair had a big game for the Spurs with 28 points and 12 rebounds, as all five San Antonio starters scored 16 or more points on the night. Tony Parker also had a double-double with 16 points and 12 assists.

For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver. For more on this upcoming game, visit Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs and Spurs blog Pounding The Rock. Head over to SB Nation NBA for more news and notes around the league.

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Spurs Vs. Nuggets Score Update: San Antonio Holds 92-72 Lead After Three Periods

The Denver Nuggets made a little progress in cutting into the deficit, but they're still down 92-72 against the San Antonio Spurs going into the final quarter on Thursday night. The Nuggets played better offensively in the third quarter, but didn't get enough stops and only outscored the Spurs 33-27.

At this point, with one quarter remaining and a 20-point deficit, a victory appears to be extremely unlikely for the Nuggets. The third-ranked team in the NBA in points per game, the Nuggets have been uncharacteristically bad offensively tonight, although that can partially be explained by point guard Ty Lawson's absence.

Andre Miller is playing well for Denver with 20 points and seven assists, while Arron Afflalo has added 14 points, but defense has been a major issue. The Spurs have gotten double-digit scoring from six different players so far, led by DeJuan Blair's 22 points. They've also gotten 14 points apiece from Tony Parker, Danny Green and Tim Duncan.

For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver. For more on this upcoming game, visitNuggets blog Denver Stiffs and Spurs blog Pounding The Rock. Head over to SB Nation NBA for more news and notes around the league.

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Spurs Vs. Nuggets Score Update: San Antonio Expands Lead To 65-39 At Halftime

Going into halftime, things aren't looking good for the Denver Nuggets as they trail 65-39 against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night. Without star guard Ty Lawson, Denver has looked totally lost on offense, while San Antonio hasn't had any of the same issues running its offense tonight.

After a dominant first quarter allowed the Spurs to take a 31-15 lead, the Nuggets put together a better offensive performance in the second quarter but still got outscored 34-24. The result is a 26-point deficit going into the second half, one that will require a minor miracle in order to be overcame.

Andre Miller leads Denver with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, while Al Harrington has added eight points off the bench. Outside of those two guys, the rest of the Nuggets are shooting a combined 5-of-24 (21 percent) from the field thus far. DeJuan Blair leads San Antonio with 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Daniel Green has added 11 points, while Tony Parker has added eight points and seven assists.

For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver. For more on this upcoming game, visit Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs and Spurs blog Pounding The Rock. Head over to SB Nation NBA for more news and notes around the league.

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Spurs Vs. Nuggets Score Update: San Antonio Dominates First Period, Leads 31-15

Without point guard Ty Lawson, the Denver Nuggets have been in some serious trouble against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, trailing 31-15 following the game's first quarter. Problems have been ample on both sides of the ball for Denver, as the score shows.

Things were actually close for the game's first four minutes, as the Spurs handled a small 7-6 lead. The rest of the period would be an absolute beating, as the Spurs responded by going on a 19-1 run to take a stunning 19-point advantage. The Nuggets made just five field goals in the entire period, shooting a brutal 28 percent from the field.

DeJuan Blair leads the Spurs in scoring with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting. They've also gotten six points apiece from Tim Duncan and Danny Green. Nearly all of Denver's points have been scored by the backcourt, as Andre Miller leads the Nuggets with five points while Arron Afflalo has four points of his own. Al Harrington came on late in the period to add another four points himself.

For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver. For more on this upcoming game, visitNuggets blog Denver Stiffs and Spurs blog Pounding The Rock. Head over to SB Nation NBA for more news and notes around the league.

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Ty Lawson Injury: Point Guard Won't Play Against San Antonio

Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson will not play in the team's game against the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night. Lawson also sat out Wednesday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Related: Spurs Vs. Nuggets: Denver Wants A Win Heading Into All-Star Break

Thursday's game is Denver's last prior to the All-Star break, which will give Lawson's ankle some additional time to heal. The Nuggets won't return to action until Wednesday, Feb. 29.

Lawson is averaging 15.4 points and 6.1 assists this season; this will be the fifth game he's missed all year.

For updates, stay tuned to SB Nation Denver. For more on this upcoming game, visit Nuggets blog Denver Stiffs and Spurs blog Pounding The Rock. Head over to SB Nation NBA for more news and notes around the league.

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Spurs Vs. Nuggets: Denver Wants A Win Heading Into All-Star Break

The Denver Nuggets hope to go into the All-Star break with a win.

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