Nuggets taking advantage of Denver’s thin air
by Arnie Stapleton, AP Sports Writer
DENVER (AP) — 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’re 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 straight 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 vs. … [For more on Nuggets taking advantage of Denver's thin air, click here.]