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Denver’s winning streak ends at 15, but Nuggets are alive and well

With the exception of the Miami Heat, the best teams in the NBA play in the Western Conference. The Heat has the best overall record in the NBA, but the Western Conference has the next five best records.

One of the hottest teams out west, winner of 15 out of their last 16 games is the Denver Nuggets. On Monday, the Nuggets visited New Orleans in search of extending their franchise record 15 straight wins, but came up short when New Orleans routed them 110-86.

Ty Lawson, the point guard and floor general for Denver missed that game, as well as the two before it, but is absence in this game obviously hurt the Nuggets. Lawson is exceptional at penetrating with the ball into the lane and finding open teammates or taking the shot himself.

The Nuggets win streak ended at 15 and it helped show how important Lawson’s presence on the court is. The Nuggets squeaked out wins against both Sacramento and Philadelphia with Lawson sidelined, but could not overcome his absence versus New Orleans.

However, before anyone writes off the Nuggets, they have moved up to third spot in the conference. The Nuggets were dominating during their 15-game winning streak. During that stretch, Denver won eight of their 15 games by 10 or more points and eight of their wins came against teams currently in the playoffs. Denver has played so well of late, many believe they could play in the NBA Finals as the Western Conference representative.

The loss to New Orleans was the Nuggets’ first overall loss since February 22 and first loss to a conference team since January 16. The loss also ended a 15-game undefeated stretch against fellow Western Conference teams.

Prior to their loss Monday in New Orleans, the Nuggets had won six straight games on the road. Already, the Nuggets are considered one of the league’s best home teams with a record of 32-3, but how with home court advantage still not certain in the playoffs, Denver has proved they can win on the road to their opponents and most importantly to themselves.

The Oklahoma City Thunder has the best record in the Western Conference against teams for the West at 34-12, but Denver is second in that category with a record of 32-12. More importantly for their confidence, the Nuggets have won three of their four head-to-head games versus the Thunder, the defending conference champions, including a win last week at Oklahoma City 114-104.

Denver has split their head-to-head matchups against San Antonio 1-1 and plays them on Wednesday March 27 in San Antonio. Against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Nuggets have won two of three and three of four against the Memphis Grizzlies. Denver has won all three of its games against rival Houston, while posting a combined record of 6-2 against the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers.

With just 10 games to play, the Nuggets are in position to have home court advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs. Time will tell how far of a run they can make in the postseason.

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