Nuggets start­ing to shine at home

NUGGETS 117, MAVERICKS 107

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Christo­pher Dempsey

At this rate, the Nuggets might never wear any­thing but the white-sleeved uni­forms the rest of the sea­son. Not that they are su­per­sti­tious or any­thing.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone’s halfjok­ing part­ing shot af­ter his postgame news con­fer­ence Mon­day night: “If it was up to me, we’d wear them the rest of the sea­son.”

They can’t, of course. But the Nuggets have de­liv­ered three wins in those duds, the lat­est com­ing Mon­day in a 117-107 vic­tory over Dal­las at the Pepsi Cen­ter. It is the first three-game win streak of the sea­son and, just as im­por­tant, moved the Nuggets to within one game of .500 at home.

“Any­time you can win three games for the first time this sea­son, pro­tect your home court, that’s what you need to do if you want to be a team that is a play­off team,” Malone said.

Home has had a vastly dif­fer­ent feel lately. It has felt com­fort­able. The Nuggets, who have won six of their last 10 home games af­ter an 0-3 start, are play­ing as con­fi­dent a brand of ball at the Pepsi Cen­ter as they have in the last cou­ple of sea­sons.

Be­fore the game, Dal­las coach Rick Carlisle said the Nuggets were play­ing an “amped up” brand of bas­ket­ball at home. He was right about that. The Nuggets eclipsed the 100-point mark eas­ily for the third straight game. They av­er­aged 125.3 points in wins over Port­land, New York and Dal­las on

the home­s­tand.

The good news for the Nuggets is the home games keep com­ing. They have just two road games be­tween now and the end of the year — both at the Blake Grif­fin-less L.A. Clip­pers — as the sched­ule evens out from a start that saw the Nuggets on the road in 15 of the first 25 games.

Sure, the uni­forms have been dif­fer­ent. But so has a start­ing lineup that has been re­vi­tal­ized with the in­jec­tion of Gary Har­ris, Wilson Chan­dler and Nikola Jo­kic. They had their best game yet Mon­day night.

Big games and ca­reer highs were all over the place. Jo­kic flirted with a triple dou­ble, fin­ish­ing with a ca­reer-high-ty­ing 27 points, 15 re­bounds and nine as­sists. Har­ris set a new ca­reer high with 24 points. Mu­diay turned in an­other sparkling shoot­ing per­for­mance, scor­ing 18 points on 7-of-12 shoot­ing. He missed just one of his five 3point­ers – one that would have given Jo­kic his triple dou­ble.

“I joked with him. I said, ‘The most amaz­ing stat of the night for you was what?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ I said: ‘One foul,’ “Malone said. “He had one foul, we play him 39 min­utes and he goes out there and gets 27, 15 and 9. When we play though him, good things hap­pen.”

Jo­kic shrugged it all off, say­ing, “The game was more im­por­tant.”

The Nuggets ral­lied from 16point deficit in the first half and took con­trol in the third quar­ter. Den­ver’s de­fense tight­ened up. The fourth quar­ter was about hold­ing the Mavs off, which they did.

“Three games in a row, we haven’t over­looked any­body,” guard Jameer Nel­son said. “No­body is wor­ried about who is get­ting stats. It’s just go out there and play well, and play to­gether.”

Nuggets guard Gary Har­ris draws a foul as he drives against Mavericks guard Wes­ley Matthews dur­ing Mon­day night’s game at the Pepsi Cen­ter. Har­ris made 9-of-13 shots and fin­ished with 24 points. David Zalubowski, The As­so­ci­ated Press

Den­ver’s Nikola Jo­kic tries to grab a re­bound against Dal­las guard Deron Wil­liams dur­ing the first half of Mon­day night’s game at the Pepsi Cen­ter.

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