Denver Nuggets Travel to Phoenix to Face Suns


The Denver Nuggets head to Talking Stick Resort Arena for a Wednesday evening tilt against the Phoenix Suns to open up a three game road trip. 

The Denver Nuggets have now lost three consecutive games, including two losses that came at the Pepsi Center to opponents with some of the worst records in the league. On Sunday, Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans overcame a first half deficit to defeat the Nuggets, while Kobe Bryant found the fountain of youth on Tuesday, scoring 31 points and leading the Lakers to victory at the Pepsi Center after trailing the Denver Nuggets by 13 points at the half, and held a 21 point lead at one juncture of the game.

In a season that has seen its fair share of winning and losing streaks, the Denver Nuggets continue to struggle to maintain any semblance of consistency. Before Friday’s game against the Utah Jazz, the Denver Nuggets won five out of their last six contests. A dearth of consistency shooting has led to losses over the past five days, while a porous defense has given teams like the Pelicans and the Lakers the chance to rally and get back into games.

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Injuries are continuing to pile up for the Denver Nuggets, as forward Danilo Gallinari missed his first game of the 2015-2016 campaign after injuring his ankle on Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans. The loss of Gallinari is huge for the Denver Nuggets, as he leads the team in scoring at 17.3 points per contest. His return on Wednesday is uncertain.

The Denver Nuggets have also played without rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who has missed his last five games due to an ankle injury as well. Not that Mudiay was lighting up the scoreboard, but as the team’s floor general of the future, it has an effect on the psyche of the club.

Will Barton continues to anchor the Denver Nuggets scoring ventures, as the reserve guard/forward scored a career-high 32 points on Sunday against New Orleans, while also scoring 25 points on Tuesday night against the Lakers (23 of his 25 points came in the first half). Shooting guard Gary Harris also added 21 points on Tuesday night against Los Angeles.

The Phoenix Suns are tied with the Denver Nuggets for 9th place in the Western Conference playoff standings, but hold a tie-breaker over Denver by way of two victories earlier this season in both Phoenix and Denver where they demolished the Nuggets by a score of 105-81 on November 14th and won 114-107 on November 20th. After starting the season off pretty well, the Phoenix Suns find themselves losers of four of their last five contests, with their most recent loss coming to the Jazz on Monday by a score of 110-89.

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Eric Bledsoe leads the Phoenix Suns in scoring so far this season at 21.3 points per game, while point guard Brandon Knight is averaging 19.7 points per game and 5.0 dimes per contest. The Phoenix backcourt is the true reason why the Suns’ offense is scoring the fifth most points per game in the NBA at 103.9 per contest. Bledsoe and Knight are difficult to guard, and will undoubtedly give the Denver Nuggets trouble on Wednesday with their ability to score.

On the defensive side, however, the Phoenix Suns are one of the worst teams in the association, giving up over 105 points per game, good for 25th in the league. The Denver Nuggets also hold a distinct advantage in the rebounding department, as the Suns rank 20th in the NBA at 43.6 boards per game. If the Denver Nuggets can secure offensive rebounds to initiate key second chance opportunities, they have a chance to snap their 3-game skid and get back into the win column on Wednesday.

Next: Kobe Bryant Leads Lakers Past Nuggets, 111-107

While the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the Denver Nuggets is worrisome, and their recent penchant for blowing large leads is certainly concerning, their ability to take advantage of a team going through a similar rough patch is likely, as they showed last week on the road in Minnesota how they still have the ability to go on the road and win. The Denver Nuggets and the Phoenix Suns tip off at 7:00 PM.