Playoff stage all Nuggets

Apr 10, 2007 1:06 AM

The Nuggets will have the postseason headlines in Colorado to themselves.

Not that it isn’t deserved. The Nuggets are playing their

best ball of the long 82-game NBA season, which is winding down to a conclusion next week. Denver has won five straight and is tied for the No. 6 playoff slot in the West.

Allen Iverson had 34 points and the rising star Linas Kleiza hit the game-winning jumper in a victory over the Clippers in Los Angeles. A No. 6 seed would avoid a first round matchup with either Dallas or Phoenix, but facing San Antonio the way the Spurs are playing is definitely no bargain.

However, it seems clear by now that the Iverson deal has worked and that he has nicely blended in with Carmelo Anthony in the lineup. Marcus Camby and Nene are healthy, while the increased minutes for Kleiza has made Denver a team to be feared.

Such will not be the case with the NHL Avalanche, which made a gallant but unsuccessful bid for the final berth in the Western Conference playoffs. The final nail in the coffin came this past Saturday when the Avs fell to Nashville 4-2 after taking a 1-0 lead.

Colorado had whittled a seven-point deficit down to three against Calgary, the team the Avs played in the season finale. The Flames lost to Edmonton and would only have led the Avs by a single point had Colorado been able to beatthe Predators.

While the Avs sit out the playoffs, the Rockies complete their first full week of the 2007 season. It’s been a good start so far with three wins in the first five games and a +6 differential in runs scored compared to runs allowed.

However, Saturday’s 3-2 loss at San Diego was disappointing because it again exposed the Colorado bullpen’s long-standing problem of not being able to hold leads.

The starting pitching has been good, but Josh Fogg’s fine seven-innings of one run ball was wasted and the Rockies’ offense again fell off drastically away from Coors Field.

But, it’s only a week.