Little time to celebrate as Nuggets face Phoenix Suns

Denver looking for back-to-back wins after breakthrough against Atlanta
by Aaron Lopez

After holding on for their first win of the season, the Denver Nuggets don’t have much time to celebrate.

The Nuggets (1-3) will face the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on Friday night looking to extend their recent run of success in the desert.

Denver lost 12 straight road games to the Suns from 2004 to 2010 but has won three of the past four meetings in Phoenix.

Nuggets Point guard Ty Lawson hopes that Thursday’s 109-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks is the start of a turnaround for Denver, which lost its first three games under coach Brian Shaw.

“With our (upcoming) schedule, we can get it going,” Lawson said. “The opportunity’s there. We just have to take advantage of it.”

The Suns (3-2) have played well so far under new coach Jeff Hornacek. They are 2-0 at home, having opened the season with consecutive wins over Portland and Utah.

The Nuggets will try to be the first Northwest Division team to break through in Phoenix. Veteran point guard Andre Miller believes that things will slowly start to come together as he and his teammates become more familiar with each other and Shaw’s new system.

“There’s a lot of pressure on the coaching staff to win,” Miller said. “It’s early in the season. We struggled a bit, but it’s a long season. We’ll figure it out as the season goes.”

Miller, a career .213 shooter from 3-point range, has made all three of his attempts from beyond the arc so far this season. His 3-pointer against the Hawks was part of a 9-0 run that helped Denver rally in the fourth quarter.

More impressively, Miller forced Atlanta forward Paul Millsap to take a tough jumper in the game’s final seconds. Giving up 6 inches and 50 pounds, Miller said his primary goal was to hold his ground against the bigger Millsap.

“If he makes a shot over me, then he makes a shot,” Miller said. “Luckily, I got him off the block enough to make him turn over his shoulder.”

The Nuggets dodged another bullet when Al Horford corralled the rebound and missed a hurried jumper from just inside the free-throw line.

“It was a good test for us,” Denver guard Nate Robinson said. “We just needed to capitalize. We have enough in this room to get the job done and make this season a special one.”


WHEN: 7 p.m. MT
WHERE: US Airways Center, Phoenix.
TV; RADIO: Altitude2; AM-950

DENVER (1-3)

F Jordan Hamilton
F Kenneth Faried
C JaVale McGee
G Randy Foye
G Ty Lawson

F P.J. Tucker
F Channing Frye
C Miles Plumlee
G Gerald Green
G Eric Bledsoe

Wilson Chandler (hamstring strain) and Danilo Gallinari (knee) are out.
PHOENIX: Goran Dragic (sprained ankle) is day-to-day; Emeka Okafor (herniated disc) is out.

Denver is 14-18 overall against the Suns since 2004-05, having gone 11-5 at home and 3-13 on the road . . . The road team has won just four games of 18 games in this series since the end of the
2006-07 season … Before the previous two seasons, the Nuggets had not won a season series against Phoenix since 2003-04 (4-0), while they’ve only won multiple games against the Suns three times in the eight seasons since (2-2 in 2007-08) … The Suns set a Nuggets opponent record with 20 made three-pointers at US Airways Center on 1/7/08 (20-of-31) … The Suns also hold the Nuggets opponent record for the most points scored in a regular season non-overtime game (173 in Phoenix on 11/10/90).