by Tomas Lopez
The Denver Nuggets can match their longest winning streak of the season when they visit the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. The Nuggets have ripped off eight straight victories to inch closer to the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies in the battle for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Denver, which won nine straight from Jan. 20-Feb. 9, had taken six consecutive meetings against the Suns before falling 110-100 in Phoenix on Nov. 12.
The Suns withstood a duel with the league's second-highest scoring team and now will have to deal with another offensive juggernaut. After outlasting the Houston Rockets 107-105 on Saturday night, the Suns will have try to contain Denver, which ranks third in the league in scoring at 105.8 points. Jared Dudley, who had averaged only 7.0 points in his previous seven games, broke out of his slump and scored 22 points against the Rockets.
Denver Nuggets (42-22): Ty Lawson has taken his offense up a notch or two in the past month, scoring at least 20 points in 11 of 13 games and tying his season high with 32 in Saturday's 111-88 home rout of Minnesota. More subtle has been the contributions of swingman Andre Iguodala, who had five rebounds, four steals, three blocks and three assists to go with 11 points Saturday. Iguodala's has been making a big impact at the defensive end, registering 20 steals in the last six games.
Phoenix Suns (22-41): Phoenix has issues at center following a foot injury to Marcin Gortat and the absence of Jermaine O'Neal, who left the team when his daughter underwent heart surgery last week. Enter Hamed Haddadi, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Memphis, where he averaged 1.2 points and 1.8 rebounds. Haddadi scored six points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots in 28 minutes against Houston. "Haddadi was a great neutralizer for us," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said.
1. The Nuggets have averaged 116.9 points in the last seven meetings with Phoenix.
2. The Suns are 5-5 at home since Lindsey Hunter was named interim coach.
3. Starting with the nine-game win streak in January, Denver has scored at least 100 points in 21 of 22 games.
NBA Basketball Prediction: Nuggets 103, Suns 97.
andre iguodala - denver nuggets - hamed haddadi - jared dudley - jermaine oneal - lindsey hunter - marcin gortat - phoenix suns - ty lawson