Nuggets want to hit finish line well to look ahead to future |

Nuggets want to hit finish line well to look ahead to future

Christopher Dempsey
The Denver Post
Denver Nuggets guard Evan Fournier, center, of France, is congratulated, after hitting a basket and drawing a foul, by teammates Aaron Brooks, front, and Kenneth Faried against the Utah Jazz in the fourth quarter of the Nuggets' 101-94 victory in an NBA basketball game in Denver on Saturday, April 12, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Nuggets have won four of their last six games, and the season is winding down. So they are closing it out just as they had hoped, with a flourish and a foundation they hope carries over to training camp next season.

“I can’t describe enough how proud I am of them, playing the way that they are with the type of passion that they’re playing,” Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said. “In these games, we’ve gone through stretches where we haven’t played well, and we’ve dug a big hole for ourselves. But we continue to fight, we continue to believe, we continue to play for one another. And as a coach, that’s all you can ask.

“So, I’m very happy about that, win or lose. I think this is exactly what we wanted to see ending up the season to carry into next season — the kind of effort that it is going to take, and the kind of togetherness that we need to be successful.”

The Nuggets get two days off before the final two games of the season, a back-to-back set at the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night and back home Wednesday night against Golden State in the finale. Sunday was a mandatory day off, Shaw joking that he would fine any individual — players, coaches, trainers — who showed up to the arena.

The idea was to have a true day of rest. The Nuggets have played with no more than nine players the past few games. Saturday, they started the day with nine, which was taken down to eight when Anthony Randolph had to leave just before game time for the birth of his child. Then, Darrell Arthur was forced out of the game when a sore knee proved too painful for him to continue. The Nuggets ended the game against the Jazz with just seven players.

“I’m just happy we’re winning games right now, just happy to do it for the fans,” forward Kenneth Faried said. “That’s all we can really do it for right now. We’re going out there and playing hard, especially on our home court — even in away games, we’re playing hard. And it’s all for them. We want them to come back next year, and hopefully we’re going to make this playoff push next year.”

Guard Randy Foye, one of the veteran leaders, lauded the effort despite the Denver having nothing left to play for, which has been the Nuggets’ situation since being eliminated from playoff contention March 26.

“There’s no checking out,” Foye said. “A lot of guys are under contract for next year. Not only are the coaches preaching, we’re preaching that our season for next year starts now, not in the form of wins and losses, but the terminology, where we’re supposed to be on defense, the things that we want to accomplish on offense. It starts now.”

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