Long-distance charges may apply as Nuggets face Suns

Denver tops in 3-point defense, while Phoenix seventh in accuracy from behind the arc
by Aaron Lopez

The homework assignment wasn’t mandatory. More like extra credit.

In advance of Denver’s upcoming game against Phoenix, Nuggets coach Brian Shaw suggested that his players watch the Suns face the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night.

Those who tuned in saw Phoenix hit 7-of-15 3-pointers, including a perfect 4-for-4 night by Suns forward Channing Frye. Over his past three games, Frye is 12-for-17 from behind the arc.

“That was pretty much the focus of our (practice) time we spent on Phoenix – dealing with the problems Channing Frye presents stretching the floor out,” Shaw said Thursday. “If you don’t close all the way out to him, he can be a real weapon for them.”

The Suns (14-10) will have plenty of options at the 3-point line when they play at Pepsi Center on Friday night. Six Phoenix players have made at least 20 3-pointers this season, with Frye and Gerald Green ranking among the NBA’s top 20 in total makes.

A lot of their perimeter looks are created by attacking guards Eric Bledsoe and Goran Dragic. The two running mates are both averaging six-plus assists per game.

“You definitely want to run them off the line, but they’re a great driving team, too,” Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur. “They can get to the paint and make plays. We have to keep those guys out of the paint and then close out on the shooters and try to run them off the line.”

The Suns have hit 32-of-66 3-pointers over their past three games and rank seventh in the NBA in total 3s. They went 9-of-20 in a victory over Denver in Phoenix on Nov. 8. For what it’s worth, Phoenix also beat the Nuggets at Pepsi Center during the preseason.

“I’m really nervous about this game,” Shaw said. “We played them twice this year. In my estimation, they handled us easily both times. We have to respect them.”

The Nuggets (14-10) erased a 17-point halftime deficit in the first regular-season meeting, only to see Phoenix rally from 11 down to get the win.

After two days of practice, Denver will look to even the series and close out a four-game homestand with a 2-2 record.

“It’s all about us, simple as that,” Nuggets shooting guard Randy Foye said. “We let two slip on our home court. We’re really confident we’re going to come out and do what we have to do to get this victory.”

Starting point guard Ty Lawson missed practice Thursday because of the stomach flu. He is listed as day-to-day, and the team expects to know more about his status at shootaround Friday.


WHEN: 7 p.m. MT
WHERE: Pepsi Center, Denver.
TV; RADIO: Altitude; AM-950

DENVER (14-10)

F Wilson Chandler
F Kenneth Faried
C J.J. Hickson
G Randy Foye
G Ty Lawson

PHOENIX (14-10)
F P.J. Tucker
F Channing Frye
C Miles Plumlee
G Goran Dragic
G Eric Bledsoe

Lawson (stomach flu) is day-to-day; Danilo Gallinari (knee) and JaVale McGee (stress fracture, left tibia) are out.
PHOENIX: Alex Len (sore left ankle) and Emeka Okafor (herniated disc) are out.

Denver is 14-19 overall against the Suns since 2004-05, having gone 11-5 at home and 3-14 on the road . . . The road team has won just four games in this series since the end of the 2006-07 season and is a mere 4-15 over this stretch . . . 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 3-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).

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