Rumors about Andre Iguodala wanting to opt out of his contract at the end of the season will have to be set aside as the Denver Nuggets focus on winning games down the homestretch to gain home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Iguodala has been playing huge for the Nuggets as injuries continue to hinder.
Ty Lawson returned to the starting lineup for the first time since March 27 and played a solid 31 minutes in a win over the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday afternoon. He scored 12 points and added 10 assists and showed he is returning to 100 percent just in time for a playoff run.
Six players scored in double-digits as the Nuggets won their 22nd in a row at the Pepsi Center. Rookie Evan Fournier started in place of Danilo Gallinari, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. Wilson Chandler was starting in place of Gallo up until this game, but coach George Karl switched up the rotation, gave Fournier the start and brought Chandler off the bench in order to keep him out of early foul trouble.
Fournier scored 24 points and Anthony Randolph showed his talent once again, scoring 18 points and six rebounds. The reserves continue to come up huge for the Nuggets and there’s no way the team would be in the hunt for the third seed in the Western Conference without the likes of Fournier and Randolph.
Iguodala should be in the talk for Defensive Player of the Year and has also been stepping up his scoring recently. Against Portland he totaled 28 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals. With injuries abound Iguodala shows his strength and helps the Nuggets power through for victories. He may have to continue to play a scorer’s role as the injury bug continues to bite the Nuggets.
Kenneth Faried went down early in the game after spraining his left ankle and is now day-t0-day. The X-rays on his ankle came back negative, so hopefully it’s not something serious that will keep him out of the postseason for long. The Manimal plays a necessary role in the Nuggets rotation and his team-best 9.3 rebounds per game will certainly be missed.
The Nuggets have to continue to look forward and with two games left in the regular season now only need one win to secure the third seed and home-court advantage in at least the first round of the playoffs. If they can’t get a win at the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday, they will still have a chance to get one against the Phoenix Suns at home.
Gallinari is out for the season and now with Faried going down with an ankle injury the other starters and reserves will have to keep playing Karl’s style of basketball to win the tough games in the playoffs. Iguodala is a defensive powerhouse that looks to finish scoring chances after forcing turnovers and his hustle must be mirrored by teammates.
Lawson is back, so at least we can be thankful for that. The Nuggets still have two starters out though, so the rotation will once again have to be tweaked and repositioned. Whatever the case may be, the Nuggets continue to win games and have now won 55, more than any other regular season in team history.