Nuggets finally using mile-high altitude to their advantage
BY ARNIE STAPLETON Associated Press
Wednesday, March 06, 2013
3/06/13 at 4:37 AM
DENVER - Before every game at the Pepsi Center, the public address announcer admonishes the crowd to drink plenty of water because at 5,280 feet one can get dehydrated pretty quickly.
It's more showmanship than a public health service, really, designed to remind opponents that they are about to play a mile above sea level.
The Denver Nuggets have long tried to use altitude to their advantage, and this season they finally have the type of team to capitalize on the thin air.
With a starting five led by speedy point guard Ty Lawson and an energetic bench that only ramps up the pace on chest-heaving opponents, the Nuggets are 26-3 at home this season.
That's tied with the Miami Heat for the best home record in the NBA.
The Nuggets have won 11 in a row at the Pepsi Center in their quest to catch Memphis for the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoffs, which would give them the home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Lawson's fastbreak buckets are accompanied by the "beep-beep" of the Looney Tunes' Road Runner as he leaves hapless defenders in his wake a la Wile E. Coyote.
The real show starts when the starters take a break, though.
Night after night, it's Denver's reserves that provide the energy and enthusiasm that riles up the crowd as they run opponents to their bench for a breather.
Wilson Chandler and Corey Brewer provide the scoring punch, JaVale McGee the dunks and rejections and Andre Miller the alley-oop passes while Lawson, high-flying Kenneth Faried, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari and Kosta Koufos grab a breather and a front-row seat to one of the best shows in basketball.
"It's been great," Chandler said. "We've got a chemistry going. We're pretty much going in at the same time, we just go out there and play hard. Andre and JaVale hook up for a few lobs and JaVale's on the boards blocking. Andre's orchestrating the whole deal and Corey's running around on defense, fast breaks."
On some nights, the reserves are better than the starters, logging just as many minutes and most of the memorable moments.
In a 105-103 win over Oklahoma City last week, the Nuggets' bench outscored the Thunder's reserves 71-11, led by Chandler's 35, which tied a career high, in a thriller that Lawson won with a sweet jumper with 0.2 seconds left.
Brewer led the Nuggets with 22 points Monday night when they won their 11th straight home game by running the short-handed and short-of-breath Atlanta Hawks until they were doubled-over grabbing their shorts and gasping for air in a 104-88 rout.
Original Print Headline: Nuggets using altitude to their advantage