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Nuggets ride momentum into Phoenix, look to extinguish Suns

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The Denver Nuggets have won five in a row. A sixth straight victory would put Denver above .500 for first time since after game one of the season. It will not be easy against a plucky Suns team.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Game 15: 2014-15 NBA Season
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7-7 (3-4 on road)
Series 0-0
9-6 (4-3 at home)
Nov. 23, 2014
US Airways Center - Phoenix, Arizona
7:00 PM MT
Altitude / 950 AM

Ty Lawson PG Eric Bledsoe
Arron Afflalo SG Goran Dragic
Wilson Chandler
SF Marcus Morris
Kenneth Faried PF Markieff Morris
Timofey Mozgov C Miles Plumlee
Notes
Denver Stiffs
Blogs Bright Side of the Sun
JaVale McGee - Doubtful (Low Leg Strain), Randy Foye - Out (Vastus Lateralis Strain), Darrell Arthur - Questionable (Knee Contusions)
Injuries

None

Denver went 0-3 against Phoenix last season

Etc...
The Suns rank 1st in the NBA with a team free throw percentage of 83.0 percent

What a coincidence.  After starting the year 1-6, the Nuggets were left for dead.  The season was on the verge of being written off.  Both the coach and management were facing heavy criticism and the "F" word was being seriously tossed around, "Fire".  But suddenly, Nugget shots were falling, Ty Lawson's drives were cultivating a bountiful harvest of points and assists, the defense holding opponents to less than 84 points in the first half of games.  This team has risen from the bottom of the Western Conference to a .500 record after winning 6 of their last 7 games.  Their trajectory resembles that of a mythical bird.  Now they travel to Phoenix.  Like the tagline for Ghostbusters 2, the Denver Nuggets can confidently state, "We're Back!"

Tonight's opponent will test Denver's perimeter defense.  Visions of Denver's home and home series against Portland is dancing in my head and Phoenix can bury us from three just as the Blazers did.  The Suns rank third in the league in three point attempts averaging 26.3 per game (Denver is just behind them in fourth at 25.8 per game).  The Nugget defense cannot collapse on the drives of Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic, and Isaiah Thomas which could leave Denver susceptible to kickouts to open shooters beyond the arc.  Denver must contest every shot.  If they can hold Phoenix to 30% or below from deep, they should be in a position to win the game.

Another key will be free throws.  Denver is one of the league's best at getting to the charity stripe averaging 26.5 attempts, while Phoenix is tied for third most personal fouls per game averaging nearly 24.  Denver must attack Phoenix in the paint and draw fouls.  The Suns should be more than happy to oblige.  On the flip side, Denver fouls more than any other team but Phoenix is near the bottom in drawing fouls.  Something will have to give in that regard.  If Denver's improved defense can play their shooters tight without fouling, the free throw differential could lead Denver to victory.

Prediction

A road game on the second night of a back to back against a playoff caliber team should spell trouble.  But when "Uncle Mo" is on your side, logic can be thrown out the window.  Denver is riding high after winning 5 in a row and, against all odds, they keep rolling tonight against a rested Phoenix team.

Nuggets win sixth in a row 117-112

Let us give thanks!