Riding a season-high eight-game winning streak, the Denver Nuggets look to open a season-high seven-game homestand with another impressive victory as they host the Pacific Division-leading Phoenix Suns.
The Nuggets continued their surge Saturday with a 90-87 win over the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs, who remain tied with the Suns for the best record in the league (47-15).
The Nuggets trailed by nine with about nine minutes left against the Spurs, who were without All-Stars Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili. But Denver chipped away at the deficit and finished strong, scoring the game’s final 10 points.
“I told my guys that they couldn’t let (the Spurs) score any more baskets if they hoped to get out of this one with a win,” said Denver coach George Karl, who is 15-4 since taking over on Jan. 28.
“Yes there was no Duncan out there, but I don’t care what you say, this is a big win.”
Denver, which has climbed into an eighth-place tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, will also be shooting for its ninth straight home victory.
Phoenix had its four-game winning streak snapped with a 127-107 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday. The Suns let a 14-point lead slip away by shooting just 23 percent (6-for-26) in the fourth quarter.
Amare Stoudemire had team highs of 31 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns, who were without second-leading scorer and top rebounder Shawn Marion (knee). The 6-foot-7 forward is questionable for Sunday’s game.
“We missed Shawn and his athleticism,” Phoenix coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We also missed the 10 to 15 rebounds that he gets a night. This is a game that we didn’t want to give away.”
Walter McCarty had a season-high 20 points, including six 3-pointers, and Jim Jackson and Joe Johnson each had 15 points for Phoenix, which is four 3-pointers shy of breaking the franchise record for most made in a season (584), set in 1994-95.
Steve Nash finished with 10 points and 10 assists for the Suns, who scored 100-plus points for the 15th straight game to match the franchise’s longest triple-digit scoring streak since the 1996-97 season. Another 100-point effort would give the Suns the longest streak in the NBA since the Seattle Supersonics had a 19-game stretch in 1994-95.
Phoenix has won five straight road games and is an NBA-best 24-7 away from home.