The Denver Nuggets had a very easy win against the Phoenix Suns tonight by the score of 122-97. The Nuggets outrebounded the Suns 58-33 including 16 offensive rebounds. Aaron Afflalo had 22 points and Ty Lawson finished with 12 points and 11 assists.

This was not a fun game to watch. The Nuggets dominated the boards and the Suns did not seem interested in any part of defending or rebounding. The worst part of this game was the Nuggets did not even play that well. They tried to rebound the ball and were giving the normal level of effort. At certain points I honestly believed that the Suns were barely trying. Nobody stood out positively for either team and it was just a rout. Everyone on the Nuggets played decent enough and everyone on the Suns did not play well.

Here's a small recap of each quarter. It was not a complicated game.

First quarter

The Suns missed their first three shots, which were all open looks. Denver just seemed to be able to get wherever they wanted to go. Hornacek was so desperate for a spark he brought on T.J. Warren in the late first quarter and went to Gerald Green rather quickly. It didn't do much. The Suns were getting handled on the boards and that would not change.

Second quarter

Denver started the quarter by making all of their open looks, including a couple from deep. The Nuggets had 9 offensive rebounds in the first half and a bunch of second-chance points. The game arrived at a certain point in this quarter where whoever had the ball decided it was their responsibility to end the drought. Gerald Green tried and so did Eric Bledsoe. Both were unsuccessful and the Suns ended the half down 66-47.

Third quarter

The Nuggets continued to stay at that overall "good enough" level and the Suns never came out in this half to make a run. At one point Denver led by 26 and they would extend it into the thirties even. It was more of the same listless basketball and nothing new. Oh, look, there's Archie!

Fourth quarter

The young guys got to play! Tyler Ennis, Archie Goodwin, Anthony Tolliver, Alex Len, and T.J. Warren played for most of the period. Draw whatever conclusions you want from their playing time. They actually had some energy to their play, which was nice. It was a very good look for the coaches as well to see what needs work if they didn't know already. What else do you expect when a team is down 30?

The Suns finish out this month with the Orlando Magic on Sunday.

No injury update on Isaiah Thomas as of two hours before tipoff. Keep an eye on our twitter where I will be live tweeting the game for an update. The comments as always will have that covered as well. Let's basketball.

When: 7PM AZ time (9 PM EST)
Where: Denver
Watch/Listen: Fox Sports AZ, Arizona Sports 98.7 FM

Last time....

If you don't remember Gerald Green happening and Markieff Morris' insane stat line, here's the recap from Wednesday when the Suns played Denver at home. A home-and-home with the Nuggets will finish tonight in Denver. The Suns will look to close out November with only 3 losses with a game against Orlando following this one on the 30th.

The Nuggets

Denver stayed with the Suns in those first three quarters because three of their starters had great days. Timofey Mozgov (8-13), Wilson Chandler (7-12), and Aaron Afflalo (6-11) all had efficient nights. Mozgov added 13 rebounds to his line along with 3 steals and 2 blocks. As for the big negative, it was Eric Bledsoe holding Ty Lawson to only 4-16 shooting on the night. Look for Denver to try to get Lawson some easy buckets early, as they can't be favored in games when Lawson shoots like he did on Wednesday.

The Suns

There is no word on whether or not Isaiah Thomas will play tonight. Look for an update in the gamethread. On Wednesday the Suns had 27 assists, including 10 from Bledsoe and 7 from Keef. While Green's explosion won the game, those assist numbers always help. Look for head coach Jeff Hornacek to encourage more of that ball movement against the 27th ranked defense in the league.

Key Players

Lawson for Denver and Green for Phoenix. Lawson still had 12 assists and 7 rebounds Wednesday despite the bad shooting night. He's a very good point guard who will be able to hang with the Suns despite their talent at the position. Denver was in the game until Green just flat out ended it, so I expect Denver's head coach Brian Shaw to pay a lot more attention to him when he checks in.

Prediction

Not much else to cover after we just saw these two teams play each other two days ago. This is a tough game to predict because you don't know if you're going to get the Nuggets who won five straight or the Nuggets who gave up 130 or more points twice already this season. Denver is always a tough place to play and I think with a really tough schedule coming up at 7-8 the Nuggets will come out with a real sense of urgency tonight. The Suns will have to have one of their better games of the season to get a win.

Time: 7:00 MST TV: FSA The Phoenix Suns (10-6) hope to feast for a third straight night against the Denver Nuggets (7-8) in the second game of a home and home series with Denver. On Wednesday  night,...

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If the Suns want to make the playoffs, they will have to be one of the better defensive teams in the NBA.

So far this season, the Phoenix Suns defense is marginally better than last year in terms of points per possession, a measure that evens the playing field among teams that play at different pace. Last year, the Suns finished 15th in defensive efficiency. This year they are 11th after the first 16 games.

The Suns play at one of the league's fastest paces, currently ranking 4th overall, with 96.4 possessions per game. Last year, they were 8th in the league at 95.6 possessions per game. Not much difference, as you can see, but still an uptick. The Golden State Warriors play at the league's fastest pace (98.7 poss/gm) while the New York Knicks play at the slowest (89.7 poss/gm).

*all stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com

Measuring defense in terms of points per possession levels the playing field for better comparison of defenses. The Suns give up the 24th most points per game overall, but surrender the 11th fewest points per possession.

Frankly, if they would just stop putting opponents on the free throw line, their defense would be even better. The Suns are 24th in offensive rebounds allowed and 30th in free throws allowed. The offensive rebounds are a byproduct of playing a smaller lineup and being such a threat on fast breaks. In a pick your poison philosophy, opponents are sometimes selling out on getting offensive rebounds to limit the Suns transition opportunities.

It's the shooting fouls, resulting in free throws, that could be limited without changing the personnel.

"If you're a split second late, you're going to foul," coach Hornacek said. "Earlier in this season, we weren't even in that position to foul. A lots of times we looked at the tape and on the weak side our guys were way over. Now at least they are pinching in, they are at least in the vicinity. Now we just do a better job of getting there a split second earlier and we'll eliminate that."

Last year, the Suns go-to defender in crunch time was P.J. Tucker. This year, he's got a companion when it comes to defending the guards in Eric Bledsoe.

"You need go-to guys defensively," Hornacek said of closing out games. "Last year it was P.J. in that role, sometimes he would be on even a guard at the end of a game. P.J. we can still do that. Eric [Bledsoe] is stepped up into that role where he can handle a guard at the end of the game. He can get over screens very well."

Bledsoe has the team's best Defensive Win Shares among the guards, and last year was by far the best point guard defender in terms of ESPN's Defensive "Real Plus/Minus", a new tool to determine defensive effectiveness.

The Suns are always going to play smaller than their opponents. Markieff Morris is slightly undersized at PF and Miles Plumlee is slightly undersized at C most of the time. The Suns like to go even smaller, too, with Markieff playing center to get more scoring on the floor. Only Alex Len has plenty of length, and even he isn't the thickest guy on the court.

For the Suns to make the playoffs, they will need to be a better defensive team. They have already negated the rebounding deficiencies by grabbing nearly as many total boards as the opponent (though both numbers are really high because of the Suns' fast pace). Now they need to limit the opponent's free throws that make it that much easier to score.

Watch the Suns' defensive rating this season. If they can get into the Top 10 consistently while maintaining a Top 10 offense, the playoffs should be eminently reachable.

Interested in playing Daily Fantasy Basketball with the chance to win money? Sign up for FanDuel here! You can put Noel against Len yourself and potentially take home some money!

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