When was the last time the Denver Nuggets won in Phoenix? I honestly can't remember. I think tonight is a great time to start a new trend of winning in the Valley of the Sun.
Denver Nuggets (5-4)
Phoenix Suns (5-4)
Denver: Kenyon Martin (knee, out), Chris Andersen (knee, out....but very close to coming back)
Phoenix:Robin Lopez (knee sprain, questionable for tonights game)
The Nuggets last win IN Phoenix was in Carmelo Anthony's rookie year: April 7, 2004.
The Phoenix Suns managed to rain 22 three-pointers down to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in L.A. last night (121-116). Impressive. It got me thinking about something my dad said as we were watching the Nuggets beat the Lakers last Thursday. He said, "The Nuggets are this year's version of last year's Phoenix Suns".
I laughed when he said that, but the more I think about it the more it kind of rings true. An undersized team playing over it's head, team basketball, and managing to win games that they were predicted to lose at the start of the season. Sounds like last year's Suns.
Now, lets talk about THIS year's Phoenix Suns. A team that underwent a pretty big overhaul in the off-season and continues to be a work in progress (having lost Amare Stoudemire to the Knicks for a ridiculous contract).
Steve Nash has been my dad's favorite point guard since he came into the league, and why not? He still has a lot of what made him a back-to-back league MVP earlier this decade. Quick and razor sharp with passes Nash can also shoot the three and drive snake like to the basket with the greatest of ease. He has yet to find another Amare, but in true Nash fashion he works well with what he has.
Jason Richardson is an interesting character study ... he's a player that is fit for only one system: Run and gun. I can't see old J-Rich thriving in a Boston Celtics style of "slow it down and play hard nosed defense." Yet Richardson is great in Phoenix, and when he's hot from three-point land there is no one this side of Ray Allen who is deadlier.
Robin Lopez is the "other" Lopez brother. He's adequate around the rim, but seems to get lost frequently and seems to really need to pay attention to his footwork. Guard Josh Childress will improve as the year progresses I'm sure as he's back in the NBA after two seasons overseas. The bench is solid, but has less hustle with the departure of Lou Amundson. Still, Hakim Warrick and Jared Dudley provide quite the spark off the bench. Alvin Gentry is in his second full season as Phoenix coach, and is most notable for aggressively installing the zone defense which almost got the Suns to the finals last season. Oh, and Channing Frye is the guy the Nuggets wanted two off-seasons ago, but he chose to sign with the Suns (his hometown team). Frye is a nice outside shooter for a power forward, but he's long distance shooting is down from 43% last season to just over 32% this year (it's still early).has struggled to find his niche since coming to the Suns this last off season. Last night against the Lakers he had 17 points and 5 rebounds which he hopes, I'm sure, is a sign he's breaking out of a year long slump. Center
Nuggets of Wisdom
The Nuggets are well rested, and Phoenix is in the second game of a back-to-back. Should be simple right? You would be wrong. As the Nuggets have proven, sometimes you can get too much rest and teams coming home to play a second of a back-to-back can be fueled by the home crowd. It's imperative that the Nuggets play as hard as they did against the Lakers to come out on top. As I said, now would be nice to start a streak of winning in Phoenix instead of folding like deck chairs. This is a night where I think Gary Forbes and Al Harrington should play HUGE roles. Both teams will employ a small lineup at times, so this one should be fun to watch.
Can the Nuggets get their first win in Phoenix since 2004? We'll find out tonight.
Oppositions Take: Bright Side of the Sun