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NUGGETS BRIEFS 2009-11-05 News New Jersey Nets

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News » NUGGETS BRIEFS 2009-11-05





No early season games are "must wins" when 82 are played, but the NBA schedule makers came close with the Nuggets .

Wednesday's game against Utah and tonight's game against Portland are pivotal contests in what figures to be a tight Northwest Division race.

The Nuggets and Trail Blazers both finished with 54-28 records last season, but Denver earned the Western Conference's No. 2 seed for the playoffs by virtue of its head-

to-head season series win over Portland.

"It's a tough way to start out, but you've got to hit the ground running," Nuggets guard Chauncey Billups said. "You don't have no margin of error right now, even though it's not do or die this early in the season. But they are big games."

Utah finished six games off the pace last season, but figures to be back in the mix with a healthy team from the start, something it didn't have last season.

Nuggets coach George Karl smirked when asked about playing such important division competition right off the bat.

"I'd probably prefer it to be a couple of weeks from now, but I think they probably prefer it to be that way, too," Karl said. "Playing hard, tough games your first two shots out, without J.R. (Smith), is probably, we're a little bit of a wounded animal, but I think we'll be fine."

Mix and match. Anthony Carter started at shooting guard for the Nuggets in their season opener Wednesday against the Jazz, but don't think that decision is set in stone.

Karl is reserving the right to start any number of players at two-guard, depending on what he feels the best matchup is.

Candidates include Joey Graham and Arron Afflalo.

"It could be a game-to-game rotation, matching up offense, defense, how aggressively I want to start the game," Karl said.

Chris Dempsey, The Denver Post

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