The Denver Nuggets have overcome their sluggish start to the season and are on the verge of owning a winning record for the first time since opening night.
Another strong performance from Ty Lawson could help continue their surge and end a four-game slide against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night in the opener of this home-and-home set.
Denver (7-7) began its season with an 89-79 win over Detroit, but then dropped seven of eight games while surrendering an average of 111.9 points.
Immensely improved defensive play has spurred the Nuggets’ five-game winning streak, they’ve yielded just 99.4 points per game while limiting opponents to 41.5 percent shooting – 31.0 from beyond the arc.
It’s their longest winning streak since a seven-game run from Nov. 21-Dec. 3, 2013.
Denver has also been offensively proficient, averaging 109.0 points during its current streak after Tuesday’s 114-109 win over Chicago.
"Nobody likes to lose," Lawson said. "I feel like we had a late start … but it feels good to get back in the mix and be playing for something."
Lawson is looking to build on his impressive performance from Tuesday after totaling 20 points, 12 assists and a season-high three steals. The guard leads the Nuggets with averages of 16.6 points and 9.8 assists, and he’s managed 17.6 and 12.8, respectively, in the five victories.
Lawson is scoring 21.0 points per game while dishing out 8.8 assists in the past six road meetings with the Suns (9-6). A broken rib sidelined him in Denver’s 112-107 overtime defeat at home against Phoenix on Feb. 18.
In addition to Lawson being available, Arron Afflalo has averaged 21.5 points while hitting 15 of 28 3-pointers and shooting 57.1 percent overall in his last eight overall games against the Suns.
Phoenix concluded a 4-2 trip with a 104-100 loss at Toronto, but found some solace in rallying from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit to briefly take the lead. The Suns hit 7 of 10 3s in the period, finishing with 14, and have shot 39 of 95 (41.1 percent) from beyond the arc their last three games.
"We can be down 20 points in the fourth quarter and can still win," said reserve forward P.J. Tucker, who had 11 points and eight rebounds while hitting 3 of 4 3-pointers. "There’s no such thing as putting us away."
Eric Bledsoe had a season-high 25 points with seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and as many blocks against the Raptors. That came two days after he was held to nine points while missing 8 of 10 from the floor in a 106-83 romp of Indiana.
The guard has totaled 27 points and 12 assists in his last two meetings with Denver, but missed the most recent two with a sprained right knee.
Gerald Green picked up the slack in the February win, scoring 36 points while sinking 6 of 14 from 3-point range. The guard is averaging 15.3 points off the bench his last six games.