Phoenix is tied with Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But the Suns have a tough schedule over the final few weeks, with six of their nine games against playoff-bound teams.
“We’re still in it. We have nine games left,” Suns coach Frank Johnson said. “If we go 9-0, we’ll be in it.”
Phoenix will welcome the conference’s worst road squad in Denver. The Nuggets are just 4-33 away from the Pepsi Center and haven’t won on the road since March 8.
However, Denver has been playing well lately, winning three of its last five games.
The Nuggets beat road-weary Washington 88-72 on Sunday. Shammond Williams scored eight straight points early in the fourth quarter, helping Denver build a 13-point lead.
“We’ve been playing some darn good basketball as of late,” Nuggets coach Jeff Bzdelik said. “This is a tribute to our players, who haven’t quit. They come to work every day. They’ve done what we’ve asked them to do—play with great enthusiasm and great effort. It’s good to see some of the results.”
STANDINGS: Nuggets - 7th place, 38 1/2 GB, Midwest Division. Suns - 4th place, 13 1/2 GB, Pacific Division.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Nuggets - F Juwan Howard, F Nikoloz Tskitishvili, C Nene Hilario, G Junior Harrington, G Rodney White. Suns - F Marion, F Stoudemire, C Scott Williams, G Penny Hardaway, G Stephon Marbury.
TEAM LEADERS: Nuggets - Howard, 18.7 ppg and 7.7 rpg; Junior Harrington, 3.4 apg. Suns - Marbury, 22.9 ppg and 8.2 apg; Marion, 9.7 rpg.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 23; Nuggets, 80-79. At Phoenix, Ryan Bowen made a layup with six-tenths of a second left off a Donnell Harvey pass. The Suns had taken the lead on Marion’s dunk but Phoenix started celebrating a little too early. Marion led Phoenix with 19 points and Marbury had 13 points and a season-high 14 assists.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Nuggets - 4-33 on the road; Suns - 25-11 at home.
INJURIES: Nuggets - F Bowen (abdomen); G-F Vincent Yarbrough (ankle). Suns - F Alton Ford (back); G Randy Brown (calf).