Notebook: Nuggets 118, Suns 98



Posted Apr 18, 2013 12:32 AM

By Michael Kelly, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: Wilson Chandler scored 21 points, Andre Iguodala added 20 and the Denver Nuggets locked up the third seed in the Western Conference with a 118-98 win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

The Nuggets (57-25) finished the season winning 40 of its last 50 games to get a high seed in the playoffs. Luis Scola had 17 points and 11 rebound for Phoenix (25-57), which split its last four games but couldn't avoid one of the worst seasons in franchise history. The high-scoring Nuggets finished second in the NBA in scoring and first in points in the paint. They padded that edge by scoring 80 in the lane against the Suns.

QUOTABLE: "I don't feel any expectations. I feel like we're underdogs and that people feel we're lucky with what our record is, but we'll show them."

-- Nuggets center JaVale McGee

THE STAT: The Nuggets set franchise records for wins in a season (57) and home wins (38). Their .927 winning percentage at home is tied for the second best in NBA history. Only the 1985-86 Boston Celtics, who finished 40-1 at home, had a better percentage.

TURNING POINT: The first quarter. The Nuggets have had games against weaker opponents that went to the wire, but with the No. 3 seed at stake they made sure this one was over early. They led by 10 in the first four minutes, by 15 at the end of the first and 26 at halftime.

QUOTABLE II: "When you play a team like Phoenix with nothing to lose, you come out nonchalant they stay around and figure they can play in the game. You play aggressive you get the game over with they'll eventually fold."

-- Wilson Chandler

HOT: Iguodala and Chandler are playing at a high level on the eve of the playoffs. Iguodala came into Wednesday averaging 16.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and nine assists in the previous six games. Chandler has alternated between starting and coming off the bench but it hasn't hurt his scoring or defense.

NOT: The Suns finished up the second-worst season in franchise history. Their 25 wins are the lowest since the team won 16 in their inaugural season of 1968-69.

QUOTABLE III: "Nobody ever wants to end a season like that, but it's all about taking steps. Unless you go out and sign three max players then you're going to take steps. You have to build somewhere and you have to start with young guys and you grab some free agents and you change. While we have our young guys we're going to work them and get better. We're competitive, and that's when you can start building something."

-- Suns coach Lindsey Hunter

INSIDE THE ARENA: Before the opening tip there was a moment of silence observed for the victims of the bombing at Monday's Boston Marathon.

GOOD MOVE: Getting a big early lead was key for Denver, which needed to take the drama out of this one right away. It allowed the players to play fewer minutes and got the reserves some time. Denver had 11 players who played double-digit minutes.

QUOTABLE IV: "You could see they were trying to get it over with the sooner the better. They're a great team; I like the way they play."

-- Luis Scola

ROOKIE WATCH: Phoenix's Kendall Marshall didn't shoot the ball well in place of veteran Goran Dragic, who was out with an ankle injury, but he was solid in 41 minutes with a career-high 14 assists.

NOTABLE: Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried continues to receive treatment for his sprained left ankle with the hopes of playing in Game 1 of the playoffs Saturday. ... Nuggets reserve center Timofey Mozgov suffered a fractured left thumb in the game. He is day to day. ... Phoenix forward Hamed Haddadi had a career-high 14 points.

UP NEXT: For the Suns, end of the season. For the Nuggets, playoffs, TBA.