Trust remains intact as Nuggets prepare to make adjustments

Denver coach George Karl says lineup changes could be on the way
by Aaron Lopez

From the day they arrived at training camp to the night they clinched the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoffs, the Nuggets have spent nearly seven months developing trust.

Trust in the system, trust in one another.

It has become a team mantra: T.R.U.S.T.

The Reason U Stay Together.

It will take more than a home playoff loss to shake that trust.

The Nuggets returned to work Wednesday after a 131-117 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.

With Games 3 and 4 in Oakland on Friday and Sunday, they focused on moving forward and making the necessary adjustments that will allow them to regain home-court advantage in the best-of-7 series.

“I believe in this team,” Denver forward Kenneth Faried said. “We believe in each other and we trust each other. We’re going to go out there and do what we have to do to get wins.”

Lineup changes might be among the adjustments for Game 3.

Faried sat out Game 1 with a sprained left ankle and came off the bench in Game 2. Coach George Karl called Faried one of Denver’s most active big men in the pick-and-roll defense, and said there’s a good chance he will return to the starting lineup Friday.

“We are going to evaluate,” Karl said. “Playoff basketball, you make changes. You don’t have patience. You do what you have to do to put the best 48 minutes of basketball on the court. We’ll evaluate that over the next couple days.”

The Nuggets spent considerable time Wednesday watching video of Game 2 and evaluating how to defend GoldenState point guards Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack on the perimeter.

Curry and Jack combined for 56 points and 20 assists, consistently getting into the paint for easy baskets or finding shooters behind the 3-point line.

“We made some huge corrections, especially with the film session, which is going to keep us motivated and focused,” Faried said.

After beating the Warriors in the series opener, the Nuggets failed to match Golden State’s focus and intensity in Game 2. Denver had a franchise playoff-low 26 rebounds and never displayed the edge was so often evident while going 38-3 at home during theregular season.

“I think we played hard. We just didn’t play ‘playoff hard,’ ” Karl said. “There’s a difference. We’ll learn our lesson and it won’t happen again.”

Denver center JaVale McGee agreed.

“There was definitely an urgency missing,” he said. “We weren’t as urgent as we should be. I felt we were kind of cocky that we won the first game. I feel like we’re going to play better on the road.”

The Nuggets split their two games in Oakland during the regular season. They beat the Warriors in double-overtime on Nov. 10 and lost by one point when Andre Iguodala’s jumper was waived off at the buzzer on Nov. 29.

Since those two games, Denver has proven capable of winning away from home. The Nuggets won eight of their final 11 road games, including victories at Chicago, at Oklahoma City, at Utah and at Milwaukee.

“We’re OK. We’re fine,” Karl said. “I never thought this wasn’t going to anything other than a close series. Every game we’ve played has basically been a small differential. The pendulum and momentum of the series changes. Now it’s our turn to change the momentum back when we go to Golden State.”

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