When: Wednesday October 23, 2013, 6:00 PM local time (9:00 EST)
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
Watch/Listen: TV: Radio: 620 KTAR
Denver pulverized the Suns in the last game of the 2012-13 season, signaling the end of the Michael Beasley era. Fitting that it happened in the mile high city... The final score of 118-98 wasn't even reflective of the savage beating the Suns were subjected to as the curtain closed on one of the most wretched seasons in franchise history. Yeah, that was fun.
Wilson Chandler scored 13 of his game high 21 points in the first quarter as the Nuggets ran off to a 33-20 lead. They extended this lead to 26 at halftime and led by as much as 29 in the third quarter before letting off the gas and coasting to an easy victory. Kendall Marshall had 14 assists in defeat, but 12 of them came in the second half of a blowout.
Denver Nuggets: 2-3 (Preseason)
Points per game: 95.0 Points allowed: 99.8
The Nuggets bid farewell to Corey Brewer, Andre Iguodala and Kosta Koufous, as well as head coach George Karl. Karl ended his tenure with a winning record in all eight seasons in Denver, including five straight 50 win seasons - excluding the lockout shortened season, but ultimately fell victim to his team's feckless playoff performances. Although he did reach the Western Conference Finals in the 2008-09 season, he also orchestrated seven first round exits. Seven. In eight years.
The Nuggets have added Darrell Arthur, Randy Foye, J.J. Hickson and Nate Robinson to the fold with Brian Shaw taking over the coaching reigns. The team returns Ty Lawson and Kenneth Faried, among others, and promises to be competitive in the Western Conference again this year (which will ultimately lead to another first round exit). The Suns will host Denver in their fifth regular season game, just 16 days after this contest, so this should be a good game to get familiarized with the new look Nuggets.
Five Nuggets have averaged 20+ minutes so far this preseason (Hickson, Lawson, JaVale McGee, Evan Fournier and Foye) out of a roster of 14. With less players than the Suns (17) to apportion minutes to every Nugget is averaging double digit minutes and all but three have appeared in all five games. Hickson has led Denver in scoring with 11.4 points per game on 59% shooting. The Nuggets are averaging 20 turnovers per game, even more than the Suns 19.2... Expect a sloppy game. Also, expect to see 20 year old second year player Evan Fournier get some more burn.
Phoenix Suns: 4-2
Points per game: 102.3 Points allowed: 95.2
The Suns are gearing up for a frenetic season pace by scoring a blistering 102.3 points per game... right? Well, take away the lopsided 130-89 victory over Maccabi Haifa and the Suns are only averaging 96.8 points against actual NBA teams. The scoring totals have whittled from 96 to 90 to 88 over the last three performances. Not the up tempo offense we're hoping to see in the upcoming campaign, but it's just preseason.
In contrast to the Nuggets five players, only Eric Bledsoe has averaged more than 20 minutes per game for the Suns. In those minutes he has given reasons for optimism with (rounded) averages of 12 points, three rebounds, six assists and three steals per game. The competition at some positions (e.g. small forward with P.J. Tucker, Marcus Morris and Gerald Green) has made minute allocation more turbid to begin the season. What is seemingly more transparent is that Kendall Marshall may do a lot of watching from the sidelines considering he is 13th on the roster in minutes played (52), just one ahead of Ish Smith (51).
The Suns are still basking in the glow of an 88-76 triumph over Oklahoma City in which they accomplished the amazing feat of shooting under 40% from the field, less than 25% from three point range (on 26 attempts) and south of 65% from the charity stripe while still managing to win by double digits. Seems like a fairly infrequent occurrence... But that type of game is exactly what the preseason is for.
What To Watch For:
Last chance for the players auditioning for roster spots to showcase their talents. I won't be surprised if the Suns limit Bledsoe, Dragic (tweaked ankle) and other probable starters to avoid the last preseason game injury jinx. Compound that with the fact this is a back-to-back set and I fully expect some of the DNP's from last night to see playing time.
The Final Word(s):
The Suns have a chance to finish the preseason on a high note with a 5-2 record. Since it may take them until December to duplicate that win total for regular season victories they might as well rack up the W's now and not let the paucity that awaits temper their enthusiasm.