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Nuggets/Suns Recap...

Half way through the third quarter I was convinced that the Nuggets had this game. They had the tired/aging Suns on the ropes with something like an eight-point lead, but as we've seen much this season against good teams on the road, the Nuggets couldn't put their foot to their opponent's throats and secure the victory. Instead, the only thing being put to someone's throat was Nene's elbow to Louis Amdundson's, which got Nene ejected and possibly suspended for an enormously important game at New Orleans on Wednesday.

I still haven't come to terms with Chauncey Billups missing that bank shot runner on Steve Nash with eight seconds left and Shaquille O'Neal making seven-of-eight free throw attempts. Chauncey missing that shot is just about as rare as Shaq making almost 90% of his free throws.

When this game came to a close, a disturbing fact came to mind. Even though the Nuggets are having a great regular season and are a very respectable .500 on the road, they've won just two road games against the Western Conference's top nine teams this season - at San Antonio (who was banged up and missing two of its three best players) on November 19th and at Dallas on December 15th. So it's somewhat ironic that the Nuggets need to win at least two or three of these types of games (beginning in New Orleans on Wednesday) before the season is over in order to avoid having to play a top team on the road in a Game 7 situation in the postseason.

All was not lost tonight, however, as former Nugget Andre Miller posted a 27-point, 10-rebound and three-steal night in leading his Philadelphia 76ers to victory in Portland over the Trailblazers. Of course, Portland's unexpected loss would have made a Nuggets victory that much better. But we must move on - Nene or no Nene on Wednesday - and hope the Nuggets figure out a way to best a top Western Conference team outside the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center before it's too late.

Nuggets/Suns Preview...

When the Nuggets visit the Suns tonight, they'll be playing their second of three straight games against teams that current Nuggets Vice President Rex Chapman used to play for. (Washington on Friday, Phoenix tonight and New Orleans on Wednesday.) If only they could add the Miami Heat to the schedule and go four-for-four against Rex's former employers.

Like most of Chapman's Suns teams, this incarnation of the Suns won't do any damage in the Western Conference and will likely miss the playoffs altogether for the first time in five years and only the third time in 21 years. But that doesn't mean they'll give up on the regular season (yet), evidenced by their current four-game winning streak. With their backs against the wall and playing a loosey-goosey Paul Westhead (not Westphal) style offense, this is a dangerous Suns team.

It also must be pointed out that a George Karl-coached Nuggets team hasn't won in Phoenix ever. In fact, the last time a Nuggets team won in Phoenix was Jeff Bzdelik's 17-win 2002-03 squad who snuck past the Suns with a last second Ryan Bowen full-court-pass-turned-layup to win 80-79 at the buzzer. In other words, Karl and the Nuggets are due.

Go Nuggets!!