Nuggets aim to alter road fortunes at Dallas (Dec 04, 2017)
DALLAS — The Denver Nuggets always enjoy an edge in their mile-high home, and they are taking full advantage this season with a 10-2 record at the Pepsi Center.
However, if coach Mike Malone’s up-and-coming team is going to make a true run at a top-four position in the Western Conference, he knows the Nuggets eventually will have to figure out how to win on the road.
A Monday night matchup in Dallas against the Mavericks, the West’s last-place team, is exactly the type of game the Nuggets need to win away from home.
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Since an Oct. 29 win at Brooklyn, the Nuggets (13-9) have just one road win, and they are 3-7 outside of Denver on the season. The Monday game kicks off a six-game road trip that winds through New Orleans, Orlando, Indiana, Detroit and finally Boston.
Malone joked that he was going to hire a hypnotist to take along to Dallas in hopes he can make the Nuggets believe they are playing at home.
“We’re going to turn the lights off in the locker room before the game,” Malone told the Denver Post. “I’ve got a guy to come with us that’s going to (say), ‘You’re getting sleepy,’ and we’ll see if it works in Dallas.”
What hasn’t worked on the road is the Nuggets’ offense. They rank third in the league in assists at home (26.8 per game) yet drop off to 29th (18.8) when playing on the road, an indication that the team’s ball movement dries up on the road.
Denver has been so good at home that the Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 115-100 on Saturday without its entire starting frontcourt due to injuries.
“We’ve got to take the same pride that we do at home in electrifying the crowd that we do on the road in silencing them,” Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried told the Denver Post.
A 106-77 road debacle against the Utah Jazz last Tuesday widened the Nuggets’ average margin of defeat on the road to 18.1 points. It also spurred a coaches and players meeting to discuss why the club is so schizophrenic when it comes to playing at home or away.
Denver will be missing at least two members of its frontcourt against Dallas. Center Nikola Jokic (left ankle) has already been declared out, and forward Paul Millsap underwent wrist surgery on Sunday that is expected to keep him out several months. Forward Wilson Chandler (back) is listed as questionable.
No team has lost more at home this season than Dallas, which is 4-10 at American Airlines Center. That mark also includes an ugly loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday that snapped a two-game win streak, Dallas’ first of the season.
The Mavericks (6-17) got home victory No. 4 on Saturday against the depleted Los Angeles Clippers, winning 108-82.
“Obviously, coach (Rick Carlisle) was on (us) after the Brooklyn loss, and he got on us pretty good,” Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki told mavs.com. “We had a good, hard practice and watched the film, and he was telling us the level and force we’ve got to play with.”