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News » NUGGETS Bitter memories for six-game trip

NUGGETS Bitter memories for six-game trip

NUGGETS Bitter memories for six-game trip For the Nuggets' players, this road trip will seem like dining at a restaurant where they were once dumped. Five different times.

Of the Pacers, Nets, Bulls and Bucks, none had a winning record last season, but all beat Denver in the Nuggets' lone trip to their towns. Embarrassment to the fifth degree. Denver returns to each of these arenas on the six-game, 10-day excursion, which also includes a game at Miami, where Denver actually won a year ago.

"It's great motivation for us," said point guard Chauncey Billups, whose team traveled Monday and plays Indiana tonight at 5 p.m.

For all the aplomb that was last season, the Nuggets were just 21-20 on the road, a good but not great record for a team that advanced to the Western Conference finals. The Nuggets (3-0) yearn to be included in the NBA's top echelon - "This could be a special season for us," Carmelo Anthony said Sunday - so they will need to win winnable road games.

"We can make some noise on this trip if we focus in," power forward Kenyon Martin said. "Guys realize we've got to put our focus on the court."

What's infuriating for the Nuggets , who made an eight-day trip to Asia during training camp, is this trip includes three sets of back-to-back games on successive nights, which are historically difficult to sweep, notably with both games on the road.

Utah, for instance, doesn't have one road trip this season that includes two back-to-

backs. Portland does have three road trips that include two back-to-backs, but neither division rival has a road trip with three back-to-backs.

"There's going to be a point where we have to win games mentally. That's what we're going to do," said Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer in this nascent season with 37.7 points per game.

The Nuggets start out tonight at Indiana's Conseco Fieldhouse, where a season ago, Anthony refused to leave a game when coach George Karl tried to rest him. This led to a forgettable, one-game suspension. Then Wednesday, the team plays at New Jersey, which went 19-22 at home, but with no bigger win than 114-70 against Denver, a game Martin called "a debacle."

"We have no choice but to think about that from last year," Billups said.

After a day off Thursday, the Nuggets play Friday at Miami, followed by a Saturday game at Atlanta, where Denver has lost the past two seasons.

After two days off, next Tuesday's game at Chicago will mark the return of J.R. Smith, the guard suspended for the first seven games of the season.

Finally, the Nuggets will play next Wednesday at Milwaukee, followed by a trip to another town that, by that point, will seem foreign - Denver.

"The longer you play in the league, you kind of get accustomed to being on the road," Billups said. "But three back-to-backs? That's tough. You've got to rely on the camaraderie of the team."

Benjamin Hochman: 303-954-1294 or

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Added: November 4, 2009


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