Slumping Nuggets look to get well against hobbled Pistons

The Denver Nuggets are sleepwalking through the final few weeks of the season and coach Michael Malone wants them to snap out of it.Denver, which goes on the road to face the depleted Detroit Pistons on Thursday, has lost a season-worst four straight games. The Nuggets still have the best record in the Western Conference but Malone feels his team is taking nights off.”Right now we’re just in chill mode, and you can’t be in chill mode with 13 games to go in the season,” Malone said. “We’ve got to try to find a way to get our swagger back.”Denver gave up 49 first-quarter points at Toronto in a 125-110 loss on Tuesday. The Raptors led by as many as 24 points.”They were playing harder,” Nuggets center Nikola Jokic said. “They were into us.”The Nuggets have also lost to Chicago, San Antonio and Brooklyn during the skid. The Brooklyn Nets are the only team with a winning record among the last four opponents.Boredom and complacency appear to be factors. The Nuggets are seemingly waiting for the postseason to begin, rather than trying to build the best record possible.”Maybe we’ve gotten a little soft with success,” Malone said. “We’ve been on cruise control for so long, No. 1 in the West since like Dec. 15. I just told our players we’ve gotten away from who we are.”Denver never led against the Raptors, though the Nuggets cut their deficit to six points by the end of the third quarter. They were limited to 18 fourth-quarter points.”When you expend so much energy getting back in the game you have nothing left to finish,” Malone said, adding, “Who the (heck) are we to think we can play three quarters and win a game? I think at some point, pride comes into play. You don’t want to get embarrassed.”The Nuggets’ loss also dropped their road record below .500 at 16-17. It was the opener of a five-game trip.