The time away from KeyArena has made them antsy. The Sonics have been by themselves on a practice court for four days, which is enough time to forget what they've done to build...

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The time away from KeyArena has made them antsy.


The Sonics have been by themselves on a practice court for four days, which is enough time to forget what they’ve done to build an 18-5 record.


During this span, they’ve taken days off to spend time with family members and heal injuries. And lately, they’ve tried to jump-start their competitive juices with a pair of scrimmages in the past two days.


Still, no one knows what to expect in tonight’s 7 p.m. game against Denver.


“These past few days have not been fun,” forward Danny Fortson said. “We’ve been used to playing every other night. It’s good to get a rest, but at the same time we’re ready to get out and play.


“My main concern is the first quarter. … We’re all going to be a little rusty and Denver has been playing. It’s going to be a great test for us.”


After tonight’s game, the Sonics will have to wait until Monday before playing again. This current stretch is their least active period of the season, and it comes after losing two of their last three games.


“We ran into some pretty good teams who were playing good basketball,” coach Nate McMillan said of defeats to Phoenix, which has the best record in the NBA, and Boston. “But that being said, this is too long a layoff.”


McMillan wanted to use the off time to install a new defensive set, but was unable to do so because several players missed practice recently because of injuries or the flu.


Better without ‘Melo?


Its 0-2 record says otherwise, but Fortson believes Denver is playing better without its star, Carmelo Anthony, who has missed the past two games because of a left ankle sprain.


“I saw them play last night, and it seemed like they played better without Carmelo,” he said. “They passed the ball really well and the ball movement was a lot better. Not saying that Carmelo is the problem or anything, but that was just my observation.”


Denver lost 107-105 to Phoenix on Monday and fell 117-95 to Orlando last Friday in the final game of a seven-game trip.


In his second season, Anthony has averaged 21.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists, nearly identical to his rookie statistics. This season, however, the Nuggets are 6-8 when he leads them in scoring.


Switcharoo


The Sonics and Nuggets are proof that preseason predictions are often unreliable.


Seattle was expected to be one of the worst teams in the Western Conference, and Denver was supposed to be among the elite teams in the league.


With nearly a third of the season concluded, neither prediction is remotely accurate.


In their first meeting, the Sonics easily disposed of the Nuggets 108-88 on Nov. 9at the Pepsi Center, which punctuated Denver’s early-season tailspin.


The Nuggets fell to 1-4 after the Sonics victory, but strung together two four-game winning streaks to help pump their record to 13-12.


“I think they were more into themselves, basically going off of the preseason hype,” Fortson said of their first meeting. “They didn’t come out and warm up against us and we jumped on them.


“Now, I think that they’ve been humbled a little bit and they’re playing great basketball. We’re the ones now in the position that they were in earlier in the year and we can’t get caught up in that.”




Notes


Ray Allen and Antonio Daniels stayed home yesterday because of the flu. Jerome James is also experiencing flu-like symptoms and was limited in the workout. All three, however, are expected to play tonight.


Rashard Lewis, who missed the past two workouts because of a sprained left ankle and sore left knee, practiced yesterday.


Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or pallen@seattletimes.com