The Denver Nuggets finished the regular season with a 57-25 record, good for fourth best in the NBA and third best in the brutal Western Conference. Denver's 38-3 home record put them in the top-10 in NBA history - tied with the 2004-05 Spurs (won the title), the 1996-97 Jazz, the 1995-96 Super Sonics (coached by George Karl), and the 1970-71 Bucks (won the title). Only six teams have finished with better home records (the 1985-86 Celtics went 40-1). Pretty elite company.
"First of all, I'd like to say thanks to the fans," said Karl. "We stole some games here on the home-court because of their intensity as much as our players' intensity."
And this last game was the sweetest, as it locked up the No. 3 seed for the Nuggets. Now, we just are awaiting a playoff opponent. Game 1 will be Sat., April 20th, with the time to be determined. We do know it will be either the Houston Rockets or the Golden State Warriors.
Well, this one was over at the half ... maybe even after the first quarter. This was exactly the game the Nuggets needed. Come out, step on the Suns collective throats early, lock up the three seed, and go into cruise control for a long stretch.
Denver led after the first 35-20 behind 13 points from Wilson Chandler (6-8 shooting including 1-2 from deep). Textbook Denver Nuggets basketball: ball movement lead to 8 assists and the team shot 15-24 (62.5%) and grabbed 3 offensive boards. Phoenix "hung-around" with 7 offensive boards and 6 points from Luis Scola.
Things went from bad to worse for Phoenix in the second quarter as Denver pushed the lead to 66-40 with a 31-20 advantage in the period. Timofey Mozgov got into the game and played 5:39 and produced 4 points and 3 rebounds. The nice story of the half was Anthony Randolph's performance - he scored 9 points on 3-3 shooting, including 3-3 at the foul line with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. The only downside to the half was Denver not protecting the defensive glass; the Suns were able to get to 40% of those available rebounds with 15 total offensive rebounds.
The Suns got some much needed third quarter revenge with a 29-25 advantage. The quarter saw Kosta Koufos, Ty Lawson, and Randolph join Chandler and Iguodala in double-digit scoring and people in the stands began checking their smart phones for videos of kittens and to see what their friends on Facebook had for dinner. It was a snooze-fest.
The fourth quarter saw Karl re-inset Chandler and Fournier into the game with about 7:15 left in the game and a 16-point lead. I'm over-cautious and wanted to see, at least, Chandler get the rest of the night off. With no game until Saturday (Game 1 in Denver!), I guess the guys needed a little more burn. I should give George Karl the benefit of the doubt as he's won about 5,781 more games than me.
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"With Kenneth [out]," said Karl. "I've kind of felt a little naked the last couple games in rebounding the ball."
Of the 59 available rebounds on the defensive end, the Suns grabbed 20 of them and that's without having a true center in the starting lineup. Luis Scola had 8 offensive boards to lead the Suns.
When asked about facing either the Rockets or Warriors:
"They're both gonna play fast," said Karl. "Which is good for us."
Karl is sticking to the notion that you can run in the post-season. The Nuggets did so against the Lakers and there are a lot of fast-paced teams in the 2013 playoffs.
"Between Houston and Golden State, they have similar games," said Wilson Chandler. "The three-ball is really important with both teams."
Lawson talking about his healing foot:
"I'm comfortable playing on my foot again," said Lawson. "There's no pain. The last few games helped me get back into form."
Lawson when asked about Denver not being able to win a title, based on "pundits" viewpoints:
"Why would I buy into that?" said Lawson. "I just don't pay attention to those type of comments."
Is Ty confident in his team?
"I'm pretty confident," said Lawson. "We played all the top teams real well. I feel like we're confident that we can get past the first-round, get to the second, and from there it's anybody's game."
Ty on Fournier's role in the post-season:
"He's just got to pay attention to detail," said Lawson. "He's going to hear it from everybody the next two or three days. We're going to be on him. If he keeps playing the way he is right now then he'll have no problem because he definitely pays attention to detail and gives it his all."
Timofey Mozgov with a left thumb fracture - listed as day-to-day.
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