Nuggets prepare for final preseason test in Chicago

Guard Nate Robinson, forward Darrell Arthur in line to play against Bulls
by Aaron Lopez

Disappointed in his team’s focus and effort from a night earlier, Nuggets coach Brian Shaw easily could have opted for punitive measures.

Instead, he used Denver’s lackluster preseason performance against the Phoenix Suns as a teaching opportunity and tried to keep the atmosphere light as the Nuggets resumed practice Thursday.

The Nuggets took part in a shooting and conditioning workout on the Pepsi Center practice court following a film session that highlighted the mistakes that need to be corrected heading into next week’s regular-season opener at Sacramento.

From their first-quarter body language to execution on both sides of the ball, Shaw stressed the importance of having a focus and sense of urgency to every game.

“I thought it was a good teaching session,” he said. “I encouraged a lot of discussion and input from the guys as to what they were thinking about before the game even started and if they took Phoenix too lightly. There were obviously a lot of things to learn from. Hopefully we did learn.”

Denver’s final preseason game is Friday at Chicago. Buoyed by the return of All-Star point guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls are 7-0 in the preseason. Rose missed all of last season while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

“I’m happy he’s able to gain that confidence back in that knee,” Shaw said. “Whenever our star players are playing and performing at the level that he does, it’s good overall for the league.”

The Nuggets also hope to have some reinforcements in their preseason finale.

Guard Nate Robinson (hamstring) and forward Darrell Arthur (bruised quad) practiced Thursday after sitting out against Phoenix. They have been cleared to play against Chicago. Forwards Wilson Chandler (hamstring) and Kenneth Faried will not play.

“We miss everybody,” Shaw said. “It throws everything off. I still don’t know what the rotation is going to be. I’m still getting to know them and learn them. I haven’t had a chance to do that in a game setting. We’re going to have to do it on the fly.”

While not dismissing the importance of finding a rhythm in the preseason, Denver point guard Ty Lawson expressed optimism about the team’s direction in its first year under Shaw.

“It’s going to take time. We’re still working the kinks out,” Lawson said. “Luckily it’s preseason. We’re doing to work it out eventually.”

Friday’s matchup against Chicago represents another opportunity to take a step forward.

“Their defense is as good as it gets,” Shaw said. “My first year in Indiana, we played Chicago two times in the preseason and we lost both games. I remember our guys getting down on themselves. We told them, ‘It won’t be that hard every single night.’ It was a good barometer for us to play against that kind of defensive team.

“They’re going to test us. We’ll see how we handle it and then we’ll have a few days hopefully to incorporate a couple of the guys that have been out and then put all of this to the test for the first time next Wednesday.”