Nuggets-Suns Preview

The Associated Press

After avoiding the franchise's worst start in 15 years, the Denver Nuggets are hoping to get on a roll by continuing their recent dominance over the Phoenix Suns.

The Suns, however, appear to be a different team after they finished at the bottom of the Western Conference last season.

The Nuggets will look to build on their first win when they visit Phoenix on Friday night seeking their ninth win in 10 meetings in the series.

Ty Lawson had 23 points, eight assists and seven rebounds to help Denver (1-3) rally from eight down in the fourth quarter before the Nuggets held on for a 109-107 victory over visiting Atlanta on Thursday.

Nate Robinson added 15 points and JaVale McGee had 14 to help new coach Brian Shaw pick up his first win. They also averted their first 0-4 start since the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.

"It was weighing on everybody. Coach Shaw, the assistant coaches had speeches for us today," Lawson said. "To get this monkey off our back feels good for everyone."

After winning a franchise-best 57 games last season behind an NBA-high 106.1 points per game, the Nuggets were averaging 93.3 on 40.2-percent shooting before breaking out against the Hawks. They shot 48.8 percent, including 14 of 25 from 3-point range.

Lawson is the only player scoring at a high rate, averaging a career-best 21.0 points to go with 7.5 assists. Lawson shot 37.5 percent from the floor over his first three games before going 9 for 16 versus Atlanta.

The point guard averaged 15.0 points on 19-of-30 shooting (63.3 percent) with 7.0 assists to help Denver take two of three from Phoenix (3-2) last season.

The Suns were a conference-worst 25-57 in 2012-13, but they've impressed so far behind Eric Bledsoe, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in a three-team trade in July.

Bledsoe is averaging a team-best 21.0 points on 50.0-percent shooting with 7.2 assists after scoring in double figures for the fifth straight contest. He finished with 14 points to help the young Suns nearly upend the defending conference champions in a 99-96 loss at San Antonio on Wednesday.

Miles Plumlee's reverse layup gave Phoenix a 96-95 lead in the final minute before Tony Parker hit a short jumper to give the Spurs the lead for good with 31.9 seconds left.

Markieff Morris went 11 for 23 to tie a career high with 23 points and added 12 rebounds, while twin brother Marcus added 11 points and six boards.

The Suns' two losses have come on the road to title contenders Oklahoma City and San Antonio by a total of 10 points.

"Both of the (Morris) brothers, they're tough to guard and Bledsoe in the pick-and-roll, same thing - he's super fast," Parker said. "He's like a pit bull. A lot people, they really don't believe in Phoenix. I think they're a pretty good team."

Goran Dragic, who's been out the last two games with an ankle injury, had 21 points and seven assists to lead the Suns to a 110-100 home win over Denver on Nov. 12, 2012.

The Suns have dropped eight of nine to the Nuggets by an average of 13.0 points.

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