After a letdown that followed perhaps their biggest win of the season, the Suns look to continue their recent success against the Nuggets when the teams meet on Saturday night.
Phoenix (50-15) had a six-game winning streak snapped Friday night, losing 105-83 to Eastern Conference-leading Detroit. That came two nights after a thrilling double-overtime victory over Western Conference-leading Dallas.
“It’s just too bad that we kind of gave back what we won on Wednesday,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said. “That’s too bad, but it happens. We’ll see what kind of moxie we have and we’ll come back tomorrow.”
It was the first time Phoenix - which leads the NBA with 110.2 points per game - was held below 90 since a 109-89 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on April 16.
The Suns are now 3 1/2 games behind the Mavericks in the race for the best record in the league. Dallas is idle Saturday.
Friday’s loss was by far the most one-sided at home for Phoenix and its second-worst overall this season. The Suns’ worst loss was 114-90 at Seattle on Feb. 14.
Phoenix will try to bounce back against Denver (32-31)—a team it’s 8-1 against since Dec. 20, 2004, averaging 115.4 points.
Amare Stoudemire had 24 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Suns on Friday, and two-time reigning MVP Steve Nash added 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting. Nash, the NBA assists leader at 11.5 per game, had one in the first half and finished with only six.
Stoudemire had 36 points and 13 rebounds to lead Phoenix to a 113-108 win at Denver on Feb. 5 in the teams’ first meeting. The Nuggets, though, were without the injured Allen Iverson and Marcus Camby.
Denver has won three straight overall, averaging 111.0 points per game while holding opponents to 95.3. The Nuggets shot 53.9 percent from the field in a 113-86 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.
Linas Kleiza came off the bench to score a career-high 29 and Carmelo Anthony had 26 for the Nuggets. Kleiza reached 20 points for the first time in his career four days earlier, scoring 24 in a win at Sacramento.
“That’s great when you’ve got a guy coming off the bench contributing the way he has,” Iverson said of the second-year swingman. “He never cares about starting or anything like that. When his opportunity comes, he’s just always ready.”
Kleiza made 10-of-13 shots against the Lakers, including 5-of-6 from beyond the arc. He has made 59.0 percent (13-for-22) of his 3-pointers in his last four games.
“I didn’t know who he was when I got here,” Iverson said. “I think a lot of people around the world know who he is now.”
Although the Suns perennially are one of the league’s worst defensive teams — they have allowed 100.1 points per game since 2002-03—they’re the only team Iverson is averaging less than 20 points against.
Iverson has scored 19.9 points per game and is shooting 32.5 percent from the field, his worst average against any team, in 14 games versus Phoenix.