The Denver Nuggets were flying under the radar a few weeks ago, but now they won't be able to shed the spotlight.
That's what winning does for a team.
The streaking Nuggets, who have won eight in a row, will leave the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center when they visit the Phoenix Suns Monday at U.S. Airways Center. Denver has won 13 in a row at home and is climbing the charts in the Western Conference standings.
Sitting fifth in the West -- 1 1/2 games behind idle Memphis -- the Nuggets kept their home winning streak intact with Saturday's 111-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ty Lawson continued his hot play with 32 points on 12- of-17 shooting and Corey Brewer added 15 points. Lawson has scored 20 or more points in 11 of the last 13 games, averaging 24.2 ppg in that time.
Lawson was the center of attention when Nuggets coach George Karl was whistled for a technical foul after he vehemently argued a call against his point guard. Karl's outburst ignited Lawson and the Nuggets, who shot 53.8 percent for the game and sank 9-of-17 3-pointers. Denver led by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter.
"Yeah he got a little crazy out there," Lawson said of Karl's tantrum. "I was about to get my first technical (foul) ever out there, but coach beat me to it. It just got a little heated; a couple of calls were a little bit questionable. I've never seen him that angry."
Lawson added that knowing the coach has your back is rewarding.
"You know he's going to battle for me, that's why I'm on the court battling for him."
Danilo Gallinari scored 11 points and Andre Iguodala had a busy night with 11 points, five rebounds, four steals, three assists and three blocks. The Nuggets, winners in 17 of the previous 21 contests, benefited from 23 Minnesota turnovers for 25 points.
Denver has won three in a row on the road and is 14-19 as the visitor this season. It will return home Wednesday for a two-game residency versus the New York Knicks and Grizzlies.
The Suns will try to keep their winning ways intact Monday in the conclusion of a quick two-game homestand.
Phoenix ended a two-game slide and won for the fourth time in six tries with Saturday's 107-105 victory over All-Star James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Jared Dudley scored 22 points off the bench, while Goran Dragic scored 13 of his 18 points in the final quarter.
"When we needed him to score he was scoring and when they double teamed him he would find the open guy and he did this from the bench. He was the player of the game," Dragic said of Dudley.
Markieff Morris and Michael Beasley finished with 14 and 10 points, respectively, for the Suns, who won despite allowing Harden to score a game- best 38 points. The Suns, though, were able to convert 21 Houston turnovers into 28 points and shot 45.1 percent from the field. They also avoided 19 3- pointers (19-of-41) from the Rockets.
The Suns, who had 13 steals and 32 fastbreak points in the win, have won three times against teams with winning records over the last six contests (San Antonio, Atlanta and Houston). Phoenix is 9-13 since appointing Lindsey Hunter coach in January, when Alvin Gentry was relieved of his duties. The Suns are 5-4 at home under Hunter, whose squad is 15-16 as the host and will play three in a row on the road later in the week.
Phoenix faces a stiff challenge versus a red-hot Nuggets team, but managed to defeat Denver, 110-100, back on Nov. 12 this season. The Suns snapped a six- game slide to the Nuggets with that win and are 13-2 in the previous 15 meetings as the host in this series.