The Nuggets, who will continue a five-game homestand tonight, suffered a 100-94 loss at Phoenix on Nov. 15. Carmelo Anthony finished with 20 points and 22 rebounds in that one, as Denver dropped its fourth straight matchup with the Suns. The Nuggets have now lost 12 straight in the desert, but are 5-1 in the previous six meetings with Phoenix in the Rocky Mountains.
Denver has won three straight overall and four of five games since that setback in the Valley of the Sun, and is coming off Friday's 98-97 win over the Chicago Bulls thanks to Anthony's jump shot at the buzzer. He ended with 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds, while Nene tallied 18 points and seven rebounds.
"This team, Chicago, the thing right now, I think they're probably the hardest playing team in the league," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "Play hard makes good things happen. Play hard can pick your team up when you have your best player not playing and almost win a game. I'm not sure they weren't the best team on the court tonight. We were more fortunate probably than good."
Karl's team squandered a 59-40 lead early in the fourth quarter, but was able to score the game's final four points after falling behind 97-94. The Nuggets held on for the win even though Chicago was playing without All-Star guard Derrick Rose. Denver didn't have Chauncey Billups either because of a broken nose and sprained wrist. He is questionable for today and has missed 12 games since coming to Denver in a trade with Detroit on Nov. 3, 2008.
Meanwhile, the Suns will hit the road for a quick trek against Denver and Golden State, and sport a 4-5 ledger outside of Phoenix this season.
The Suns have won two of three games since a three-game slide and posted a 116-108 home triumph versus the Clippers on Friday. Jason Richardson had 29 points, including five three-pointers, and Hakim Warrick came off the bench to score 25 points for Phoenix, which rolled out to a 42-21 lead after the first quarter and got 16 points and 10 assists from Steve Nash.
"Once again we got off to a great start," Phoenix head coach Alvin Gentry said. "We just have to find a way to maintain a little bit. We're not going to play at that level though, we're not going to end up with 168 points, but we have to play a little more consistently than what we are doing."
Phoenix's Robin Lopez did not suit up because of a sprained MCL and PCL. His return is unknown. The Suns scored a season-high 67 first-half points.