NBA: Suns, Nuggets play outdoors
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. ó Whether it was the wind, the temperature or just a different environment to play in, the NBA’s first outdoor game in more than three decades was an offensive struggle.
The Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 77-72 on Saturday night in the exhibition game billed as “NBA Outdoors!” at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Both teams struggled from the field and the free-throw line and combined to go 3-of-27 from 3-point range on a night when the temperature dipped into the 60s with some wind hitting the court by the end of the game.
“If you shoot a ball and it starts slicing right, well …” said Phoenix guard Steve Nash, who led all scorers with 16 points. “But that’s not really the point of the game, to shoot a high percentage. The point was to come out here and see what it is like to go up and down outside and put NBA players in this situation.”
J.R. Smith led Denver with 12 points.
“The players said they couldn’t sweat, the ball was slippery and the wind, I think, was a factor in the poor shooting and the poor free throw shooting,” Denver coach George Karl said. “But I’m glad we did it. It’s an experience. We might want to start the game at 5 o’clock maybe instead of 7.”
Phoenix (1-2) shot 31.6 percent, while Denver (2-0) shot 36.3 percent and made just 18 of 38 free throws.
The game lacked some star power for the crowd, announced at 16,236. Amare Stoudemire didn’t play for the Suns because of an eye injury, while Allen Iverson (knee) and Carmelo Anthony (hand) sat out for the Nuggets.