|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CT23:00 , November 24, 2019
Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado Attendance: 19,520
Suns ready to test Nuggets' newfound defense
The Denver Nuggets discovered something good in what was a disappointing outcome a couple of weeks ago.
They can play defense.
Denver was torched by Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks for 125 points in a home loss on Nov. 12 but has held three of its four opponents since to 95 points or fewer. The only outlier was 114 points scored by host Memphis, but the Grizzlies got many of those points in garbage time as the Nuggets scored 131 themselves.
That defense will be put to the test when the Nuggets host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. The Suns are coming off a 100-98 win at Minnesota on Saturday afternoon that ended their three-game skid.
Phoenix was hit by some injuries during its losing streak. Center Aron Baynes has missed three straight games with a hip injury and guard Ricky Rubio left a loss to Sacramento with back spasms and has missed the last two games, which has put a damper on the Suns' quick and somewhat surprising start to the season.
Add to that the 25-game suspension to center DeAndre Ayton and Phoenix has had an uphill battle. But the Suns have persevered.
"I told our guys, 'Look we had a nice run,'" head coach Monte Williams, referring to the team's terrific start, told the New York Times. "'We've gotten hit in the mouth with injuries. Let's see what we're made of. The buzz has died down, and now we can just focus on getting better.' This is the NBA. Our guys are more than able to do what they need to do to get better."
Baynes and Rubio would be two big absences when facing a surging Nuggets team. Denver has won four in a row and is coming off one of its better defensive weeks. The Nuggets held Houston, the top scoring team in the NBA, to 95 points and James Harden to 27 on Wednesday before putting the clamps on Boston in a 96-92 win on Friday night.
After a rough couple of games where the defense has been suspect, coach Michael Malone has his team playing hard on that end of the floor, and the results have been positive.
"Our guys understand that when we defend like this, we can beat anybody in the NBA," Malone said after the 105-95 win over the Rockets. "Just imagine if we continue to defend at this level and the offense picks up."
The biggest focus will be stopping guard Devin Booker, who is averaging 26.2 points a game in November and 25.6 overall. He finished an assist shy of a triple-double against the Timberwolves, putting up 35 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.
But Phoenix has other weapons on offense -- five other active players are averaging double figures in scoring through the first 15 games.
The Suns will be looking for a measure of revenge against the Nuggets. The teams met in Denver on Oct. 25, with the Nuggets pulling out a one-point win in overtime.
--Field Level Media
Updated November 23, 2019