National Basketball Association
Phoenix at Denver
When: 9:00 PM ET, Friday, January 19, 2018
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
The Denver Nuggets dropped five of their last seven games and fell out of the top eight in the Western Conference with a 109-104 setback at the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. The Nuggets are a much stronger team at home and will try to string some wins together when they open a five-game homestand by hosting the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
Denver is 16-5 in its own building and will play eight of the next nine in front of its own fans after dropping to 7-17 on the road with Wednesday's loss, during which it held a double-digit lead in the second half. "That's back-to-back nights where defenses have turned up the pressure, turned up the heat, and we have not handled it well," Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters. "... (Opponents) are watching us. They're just gonna ratchet up the pressure and watch us turn the ball over and self-implode." The Suns don't figure to bring quite as much pressure while ranking last in the NBA in scoring defense (112.4). Phoenix allowed the Portland Trail Blazers to shoot 50.5 percent from the floor in a 118-111 loss on Tuesday after watching the Indiana Pacers go off at 54.5 percent in Sunday's 120-97 setback.
9 p.m. ET, FS Arizona (Phoenix), Altitude (Denver)ABOUT THE SUNS (16-29):
Phoenix may not have a handle on its defensive scheme, but shooting guard Devin Booker is fully embracing his role in the offensive scheme. Booker poured in 43 points on Tuesday and continued to assume a larger role as a playmaker with eight assists - his third consecutive game handing out at least seven assists. Booker is not getting much help and watched the rest of the starting five combine for 28 points on 10-of-28 shooting in Tuesday's loss, with only point guard Tyler Ulis (11 points) reaching double figures.
ABOUT THE NUGGETS (23-22):
Denver is trying its own shooting guard running the offense by elevating sixth man Will Barton to the starting lineup. The 27-year-old Memphis product handed out six assists in each of the last two games and totaled 39 points on 16-of-30 shooting in the contests but also totaled seven turnovers, including one in the final seconds on Wednesday with a chance to tie the game. "I didn’t deliver like I was supposed to," Barton told the Denver Post. "I just gotta stay strong and learn from it, and I will. Not being able to come through for my team, that’ll haunt me for the night."BUZZER BEATERS
1. Phoenix SF TJ Warren (back) missed the last two games and is questionable for Friday.
2. Nuggets SG Jamal Murray (concussion) sat out the last game and is not likely to play Friday.
3. Denver took the last seven in the series, including a 134-111 home win on Jan. 3.PREDICTION:
Nuggets 122, Suns 113
Stats and Records