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Nuggets vs Rockets: Going for three, the Nuggets favorite (7pm MST)

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When you play the Denver Nuggets you need to worry about their ability to get to the rim, but if you pack your defense into the paint the Nuggets will take your squad apart with their three-point shooting. If you focus on Denver's three-point shooting they will relentlessly attack the rim. Denver ranks first overall in the NBA in free-throw attempts and they rank second overall in three-point shooting percentage. Pick your poison Houston, as they try to prevent losing to the Nuggets for the third straight time this season.

The particulars ...

Game: 52
Records:
Denver:
30-21 (21-6 at home)
Streak: Won 1 and 6-4 in last 10 games.
Houston: 24-28 (10-18 on the road)
Streak: Won 2 and 5-5 in last 10.
Injuries:
Denver
: Ty Lawson (left knee strain) is questionable. Al Harrington(left plantar fascia strain) is day-to-day.
Houston: Jordan Hill (sprained left ankle) is out. Brad Miller (sore left knee) is day-to-day. Yao Ming (stress fracture in left ankle) is out. Houston's injury report doesn't list status, so I'm going off recent box scores for Hill and Miller.

Season Series: Nuggets lead 2-0.

Opposition's Take: The Dream Shake - the folks over at T.D.S. share the news that Aaron Brooks will not be playing Monday night against Denver. He's been suspended by the Rockets for walking out on the team during the fourth-quarter of their overtime win Saturday night vs. Memphis.

The Rockets come to Denver riding a pretty nice two game win streak. They have defeated the Jazz in Utah and the Grizzlies at home in Houston by a combined three points. The injury bug has bit the Rockets a little bit lately as on-and-off starting center Jordan Hill is out and Brad Miller is banged up. But back is the bulky Chuck Hayes who missed eight games from Dec. 31 thru Jan. 12th, which included a loss to the Nuggets on Jan. 3rd in Denver.

Hayes is an interesting center because he's only about 6'6'' tall ... quite a difference from the 7'6'' Yao Ming. Hayes is a good post defender and has been averaging 7.2 points and 6.6 rebounds this season. He will get after the offensive glass, averages 2.5 offensive-rpg, but should have his hands full with Nene.

The scoring burden for Houston falls on the shoulders of Kevin Martin (23.3 ppg) and Luis Scola (19.3 ppg). Both guys have a variety of moves, but they execute them in different ways. Kevin does most of his work outside the paint, but he loves to draw contact on pump fakes. Those fakes get him tothe free throw line often, where he averages 8.7 attempts per game to go along with his 88.7% shooting from the charity stripe.

Scola is a master around and inside the paint, where he's deceptively quick with his moves and somehow manages to get his shots off despite barely leaving the hardwood. Nobody is ever going to mistake Scola for Charlie Sheen, or rather Blake Griffin, he just doesn't get very high.

The Nuggets' J.R. Smith can sky and he also loves to shoot the three-point ball, just like the rest of his teammates. Let's take a look at some numbers by the Nuggets this season ...

  • Nuggets three-point shooting:
  • 2nd in three-point shooting percentage with 39.2% on makes. Golden State leads the league my making 40% of their long-ball shots.
  • Opponents, despite being left wide-open at times, make only 34.8% of their shots from downtown against Denver and that ranks 22nd in the league. Teams shoot the best against the Cleveland Cavaliers to the tune of 43% from downtown.
  • The Nuggets have made 416 three-pointers this season, good for 4th overall in the NBA. The Orlando Magic rank 1st overall with 485 makes.
  • The Nuggets have attempted 1,061 three-pointers this season, good for 5th overall in the NBA. Again, the Magic rank 1st overall with 1,318 attempts.
  • To recap: the Nuggets are 416-1,061 from deep or 39.2% from downtown.
  • Chauncey Billups accounts for 22.8% of Denver's made three-pointers this season and 20.1% of Denver's attempts.
  • Al Harrington accounts for 21.8% of Denver's made three-pointers this season and 22.1% of Denver's attempts.
  • Arron Afflalo accounts for 19.5% of Denver's made three-pointers this season and 18.2% of Denver's attempts.
  • J.R. accounts for 14.9% of Denver's made three-pointers this season and 16.4% of Denver's attempts.
  • and Carmelo Anthony accounts for 7.4% of Denver's made three-pointers and 9.8% of Denver's attempts.

And on to the Nuggets' free throw shooting ...

  • Nuggets at the free throw line:
  • 1st overall in free-throw attempts with 1,550 attempts. Oklahoma City ranks 2nd with 1,513 attempts, the Lakers rank 12th with 1,243 attempts and Golden State ranks 30th (last) with 1,043 attempts.
  • 2nd overall in free-throws made with 1,224 makes. Oklahoma City ranks 1st with 1,255 makes.
  • 5th overall in free-throw percentage with 79% as a team. Oklahoma City ranks 1st with 82.9% shooting as a team.
  • To recap: the Nuggets are 1,224-1,550 from the foul line or 79%.
  • Melo accounts for 24% of Denver's makes from the foul line and for 23.6% of their attempts.
  • Billups accounts for 20.2% of makes and 17.4% of attempts.
  • and Nene accounts for 15.2% of makes and 15.8% of attempts.

Houston, typically a stingy team defensively, is allowing 104.7 points per game this season. The Nuggets beat the Rockets on October 30th in Houston 107-94 and on January 3rd in Denver 113-106. Scoring hasn't been the Nuggets problem against the boys in red and white, but they'll need to focus more defensively themselves as they allow 104.4 ppg.

Will the Nuggets get their third win against the Rockets? If they can bury some threes of the old fashioned variety, the And-1, and get the deep shots going it could be along night for Scola, Kevin and the gang.

Nate_Timmons on Twitter
ntimmons73@yahoo.com