Nuggets seek to cap strong January with Lawson in lineup
When Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson had trouble moving pain-free during a pregame workout Sunday, he knew his sprained left ankle wasn’t ready for the task at hand.
It’s hard enough playing against three-time All-Star Chris Paul at full-strength, let alone with a bad wheel.
Lawson could only watch as Paul scored 25 points in the Los Angeles Clippers’ 109-105 victory at Pepsi Center, but he hopes to be an active participant when Denver faces the Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum on Tuesday.
“I’m working in the direction of playing,” Lawson said after doing some shooting and individual drills Monday. “If I’m able to play, I’m going to play. There’s no playing it safe now. We’re in the middle of the season and we’re still in a group of teams trying to separate ourselves in the West.”
Despite having their six-game winning streak snapped, the Nuggets (14-6) still boast the second-best record in the Western Conference. They also have won five straight road games and can match their longest road streak in 24 years with a victory in Memphis.
“I actually think our mental attitude on the road court has been better-focused than at home,” coach George Karl said. “We kind of rely on the enthusiasm of home to win the game. Our team’s always done well coming back off of a loss and responding well.”
Responding to adversity will be a theme in February.
After facing the Grizzlies to close January, the Nuggets will get a day off before entering the most difficult stretch of the season. They play the Clippers again in Los Angeles on Thursday before returning home to play the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. The Nuggets immediately board their charter plane to Portland to complete a difficult back-to-back-to-back set against the Trail Blazers on Saturday.
In addition, they are in the early stages of a 19-game stretch that features 16 games against teams with winning records.
“We will know more on March 1 than we know now,” Karl said. “We have a team that, I think, if we do some things the right way and coach them the right way, it could be a really good team.”
Notes: Nuggets center Nene is averaging 16.9 points and 9.6 rebounds in his past eight games, compared to 11.6 and 8.0 in his first eight … Denver has won 12 of the past 14 meetings against Memphis … Nuggets are 12-4 in January and can set a team record for wins in a month by beating Memphis. It should be noted that the only other time Denver played 17 games in a single month was during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.