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Nuggets begin road to preparedness in Las Vegas

Denver opens six-game exhibition schedule against the L.A. Clippers


By the end of the preseason, the Denver Nuggets hope to be in midseason form.

With a road-heavy schedule that includes 17 of 23 games away from Pepsi Center, the Nuggets don’t have the luxury of experimentation once the regular season tips off Halloween night in Philadelphia.

“We have seven preseason games,” Denver coach George Karl said. “I feel we have to be ahead of everybody else because our schedule is very difficult early on. We have to have confidence in knowing who we’re going to play before the 20 games of experiments.”

Karl said the Nuggets need to win “55 or 60 percent” of their first 23 games, which translates to 13 or 14 victories.

The road to preparedness begins Saturday as the Nuggets open their preseason schedule against the Los Angeles Clippers in Las Vegas. The game at the Mandalay Bay Events Center will be the first NBA game played on the Strip.

“It’ll be fun,” Nuggets forward Corey Brewer said. “We’re just trying to get better and get to know each other a little bit better.”

While NFL teams ease their top players into the preseason, Brewer and his teammates figure to get plenty of minutes over the next four weeks.

Veteran point guard Andre Miller will get the night off Saturday, and forward Wilson Chandler also will sit out while recovering from hip surgery. Karl otherwise wants to get a good look at his younger players, which means pretty much everyone else.

He specifically mentioned second-year swingman Jordan Hamilton and rookie guard Evan Fournier. Hamilton had an excellent summer, while Fournier held his own during the first four days of training camp.

“(Fournier) has really worked on his shot. I think he’s going to be a very good shooter,” Karl said. “He’s shown me he’s really into figuring out what he has to do to be an NBA player.”