A loss against one of the lesser teams in the pitiful Eastern Conference would put a big damper on what has been, what coach Michael Malone called an "unbelievable home stand".
Home-court advantage - This extended homestand the Nuggets are now on has been a major factor as to how they have found their groove this season. Evan Fournier and Jonathon Simmons scored 18 apiece. He had nine of his 16 points in a 13-0 Denver run late in the first quarter when the Nuggets took a 35-19 lead.
Down 70-47 at the half, things only got worse in the third period as Denver surged to a 30-point advantage.
The lead grew to 30 in the third quarter but the Magic battled back to make it a 13-point game but never got closer.
"To have a good team you need a bench who will come in and do all the gritty work", Speights said.
Hernangomez was diagnosed with mononucleosis on October 24 and did not travel with the team on their four-game East Coast road trip the next day. The group out there was playing hard. Suns C Tyson Chandler (back spasms), F Greg Monroe (calf strain), G Brandon Knight (ACL surgery), G Davon Reed (meniscus tear), F/C Alan Williams (meniscus tear) all were listed as out for Friday's game against Orlando. Payton didn't play to protect against him aggravating the left hamstring that kept him out of eight games this season.
Orlando beat Phoenix 128-112 on Friday night and got into Denver late. They paid dearly for that decision - to the tune of a 125-107 loss to the surging Denver Nuggets - but the key factor to remember is that Payton will soon be back on the floor and impacting the Orlando offense as only he can.
"We want to change our mindsets", Millsap said. He originally suffered the injury on October 20 midway through the second game of the season and missed the next eight. G Gary Harris did not play because of a shoulder injury.
Payton stayed back in the locker room throughout the game - one, because he didn't have a sport coat to wear on the bench and secondly because he despises missing games. The 22-year-old played in Denver's first two games this season but didn't fare well.
"He can jump high", Jokic said. "I think it'll show us what we're made of. He caught it. It was a nice play".
The play brought back memories for Malone.
"It reminded me of Bobby Hurley's pass to Grant Hill back in the day", he said, referring to the Duke teammates in the Blue Devils' win over Kansas in the 1991 NCAA title game. Their last five games have been at the Pepsi Center, and have won four, with their only loss coming against the Golden State Warriors.
Nuggets: Play at Northwest Division rival Portland on Monday night.