Tonight the Suns take on the Nuggets for the second meeting of the two teams this season. After a 109-100 victory over the Hornets, the Suns look for a 4th straight victory and 2nd straight win over a squad they should have beaten the first time around.
You may recall the December 12 meeting between the Suns and Nuggets in which Phoenix, bolstered by the second unit of Hill, Dudley, Amundson, Dragic and Frye, went on a 19-2 run in the second quarter, giving the Suns a 17 point lead. But in the third, the lead was squandered, as Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups did what they do and the Suns defense did what it often does. The Nuggs hung on for a 105-99 victory. The Suns could have simply been called Steve Nash that night as our wondrous Canadian point guard went for 28 points on 11-17 shooting. He was virtually a one man team as the rest of the squad put up some terrible numbers:
- Amare Stoudemire-4/10, 13 points, 7 turnovers, 5 fouls, -20 on the +/- scale.
- Jason Richardson-3-8, 8 points, 3 turnovers in 25 minutes
- Robin Lopez-4 minutes, 3 fouls, 0 points
- Grant Hill-43 minutes, 4-11 shooting
- The Nuggets scored 31 points off of 21 Suns turnovers
- The Nuggets grabbed 15 offensive rebounds
- The Suns shot 54% from the field, 41% from beyond the arc
- The Nuggets shot 41% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc
Back to the Present
Tonight, nearly two months later, the Nuggets rejoice at the return of Carmelo Anthony, who will play tonight after missing 5 games with an ankle sprain. The Nuggets haven't missed him too much, going 4-1 without Anthony. Overall, Denver has won 10 of their last 11, posting a 11-3 record in January.
The Suns though, are a different squad. Robin Lopez isn't struggling as he was back in December, Amare has scored 73 points and 24 rebounds in the past three games, and Grant Hill has found some energy in those 37 year old legs. Steve Nash has posted 39 assists and 3 (three) turnovers in the past 3 games.
- Denver is 3rd in the league in ppg, averaging 107
- Denver is 8th in the league in FG%, shooting 47%
- Denver is 3rd in the league beyond the arc, shooting 37.5%
- Denver is 18th in the league in rebounding, with 41 per game
- When scoring 100+ ppg, the Nuggets are 28-6. When opponents score 100+, they are 13-13
Keys to the Game:
Here's to hoping the Nuggets are looking to the future as they must deal with the schedule looming ahead that includes: An away game against the Lakers on Friday followed by a Satuday match up in Utah. Denver then must return home only to take on Dallas and San Antonio after the All-Star break.
Here's to hoping our rough and tumble bench comes out ready for a vicious cock fight. Expect to see plenty of Louis Amundson, Jared Dudley, and maybe even Jarren Collins if things get tough enough inside. I also think it wouldn't hurt to sprinkle in a little Earl Clark for his length and new found aggressive play. Of course, let's give him direction to not shoot every time he touches the ball. Aside from that, it's the usual:
- Slow Carmelo (hope he's rusty and gimpy from his ankle sprain)
- Contain Chauncey, limit his ability to create (oh and try not to leave him wide open)
- Battle inside. I like Lopez, Amundson and Co. inside battling Nene, Martin, and Anderson. Curious to see how it works out.
- Hope Jason Richardson can bring some offensive production tonight. In his last ten, Rich has gone for 3, 8, 17, 6, 14, 18, 12, 26, 8, 9.
- Hope Goran Dragic can get back on the offensive track. After a string of 4 straight double digit scoring efforts, Dragon dropped 0 and 5 in the past two. It will be interesting to see if he gets much time defending Billups and how he handles that.
"It all goes down to our defensive effort. In the past three games we've done a great job with that."
"I don't think people are on edge as they were before. I don't know if it was trade rumors or pressure. It's nice to get back on our feet."
The Suns are one of only 3 teams in the NBA to have played 50 games already. (More evidence David Stern doesn't like the Phoenix Suns)